The mayors of Safford and Cananea, Mexico agreed to move forward with a sister city initiative between the two cities after meeting at a Southeast Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Graham County Chamber of Commerce meeting at The Plank restaurant in Safford on Thursday.
“Safford is a mining town like Cananea,” said Eduardo Quiroga, the mayor of Cananea, through a Spanish-language translator. “It means a lot to work together and exchange ideas.”
“It’s beautiful, everything,” Quiroga said about Safford.
What becoming a sister city means is largely up to the initiative of the mayors of the two cities, said City Manager John Cassella, but it’s “more about cultural exchange” between cities, which could include everything from student exchange programs to initiatives revolving around tourism and commerce.
One idea floated at the meeting was having businesses in each city hang up signs indicating that staff members are bi-lingual in order for each city to make shoppers from the other city more comfortable and businesses more accessible to each other.
“I’m looking for a relationship right now where we extend our hand out to them, and they extend their hands out to us,” said Safford Mayor Jason Kouts. He hopes the initiative will connect the two cities’ “labor pools.”
“It has the opportunity to broaden us,” Kouts added.
In order to formally become sister cities, they’d have to sign a formal memorandum of understanding, Cassella said.
Mayor Quiroga invited Safford city officials to visit Cananea in August, Cassella said.
“It’s a good thing,” Cassella said, “We’re moving forward to a more formal sister city relationship.”