Arizona 360: Tucson mayoral candidate forum

Arizona 360: Tucson mayoral candidate forum


(gentle music) – Hello and welcome
to Arizona 360, I’m Lorraine Rivera
thank you for joining us. Tucson’s election is now
on the hands of voters after ballots went
out this past weekend. The race for Mayor tops the
ticket with three candidates running to replace
Jonathan Rothschild. This week Arizona 360
brought them together, to discuss issues like public
safety and the economy. But first a refresher about
the city they hope to lead. – [Reporter] More than 1/2 a
million people call Tucson home making it Arizona’s
second largest city. Known as a leader in optics,
aerospace and defense, some of its largest
employers include Raytheon, the University of Arizona and
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. Economist at the U of A
College of Management, say that Tucson Metro
added jobs over the year at a faster rate
than the country. – Can we get (muffled) – [Reporter] But joblessness
in the city also outpaces the rest of the
state and nation, and nearly one in
residents live in poverty. – Thank you. – [Reporter] Mayor’s
can make a difference when it comes to steering
growth and spreading prosperity. – Okay anybody else- – [Reporter] But in Tucson
their power has limits while they shape policy and
vote with the City Council. The role of Chief
Executive Officer goes to the city manager. – Entails working
with our partners- – [Reporter] Currently
Michael Ortega, who also oversees all
municipal operations, now vying to make their mark
independent Ed Ackerley, an advertising executive
and Professor at the U of A, and the Green Party’s Mike Cease who owns a computer
consulting business, and Democratic City
councilwoman Regina Romero. – And my thanks to all
three of you for being here. We do wanna stress
this is not a debate but we do want the viewer
to hear your thoughts on some key issues
affecting the city of Tucson as we move forward. You’ll be managing
a number of issues here in the city of Tucson, a number of topics will come
to you as the next mayor. Let’s begin with the
job itself Mr. Ackerley, let’s move to you. The city of Tucson boast
at $1.4 billion budget, let’s say you’re mayor and
you can remove one item, what would it be? – I think the duplication
of effort with the county might be something that we look
at both in parks and courts and other places where
we’re duplicating the effort of another governmental entity and some of those could
be shared with the county and that would help
us take that budget and expand it a little bit
so we can do other programs. So I think looking at
that from that perspective of how can we take back some
of that duplication of effort that the county
provides as well. – Mr. Cease could you identify
one area of the budget that you think needs to
have a second look at? – Absolutely, there’s
historically been
economic development has gone to funding out
of state firms coming in, such as Caterpillar
industries, for example. We need to take a hard look at
that and under administration we’re gonna change
and prioritize local Tucson businesses first. – Okay Ms. Romero? – I believe that it is
important to work together with other governments
other area governments. One place where I’d
like to make sure that we’re collaborating
and hopefully, joining forces is with
the University of Arizona, with Banner, UMC with
other corporations, school districts, Pima College, to take a look at
our transit system. Because I know that that
the University of Arizona has CatRan and so I’d
really like to drill down in our in our transit
system and make sure that we are collaborating
from the partnerships and finding ways to continue
investing in our transit system making sure that we are
working with Pima County, and with other cities
and towns in the region, to see if we all
cuddled together, put
our money together, if it will make much more sense for the budgeting
of that system. – Okay, now in addition
to the race for mayor and three City
Council seat voters, also have a decision to make as we know about two
propositions prop
205 and prop 409. So let’s start with prop 205, better known as a
sanctuary city initiative. It would restrict
instances where police could question someone about
their immigration status as well as their ability to
work with law enforcement like ACE and Border Patrol. The leader of the campaign
told us this is designed to, “Squeeze S.B.
1070 to its limit.” Critics worry about
the potential loss of state and federal dollars
and say it would negatively impact public safety. So Mr. Cease, let’s
begin with you. Let’s say your mayor, the
measure fails, you want it is this the last
week here of it? – This is not the last
we hear of it, no. This is important
for the community to protect all
Tucson some families. You’re opposing a hypothetical, the measure will pass
despite the efforts of outside interference,
a lot of money and a lot of misinformation. The two things you cited about loss of federal money, loss of state money,
those are both false. – You anticipate it would
get caught up in the courts? Is what you’re saying? – No, it will withstand
court challenges ’cause the measure was
written to withstand that. But the more importantly, there’s been a legal challenge
to the city of Tucson interfering in the election. It’s been done before,
a lot of your viewers may not be aware that
the city of Tucson attempted to suppress
democracy earlier this year by illegally keeping the
Green Party off the ballot. – You’re referring to
certain certain city leaders voicing their opinions
about the issue? – This was interference
in the election, yes. And there is a law
suit about that. – Okay Mr. Ackerley, Ms. Romero
you’ve both voiced concerns about this should
pass, potentially a
$200 million budget shortfall when it comes
from the state and the feds. How would you manage that sort
of financial and potential public safety crisis
that could result Mr. Ackerley, we’ll
start with you. – I think it would
be devastating to the
economy for Tucson, and for the budget
that’s more than 10% it could be even more than that
of the budget that we have. We’re already strapped trying
to get enough police officers and fire and our roads fixed. And if we take $150
million out of that budget, 10% of the overall that
would really create a dynamic that would be difficult for
the city to recover from. I don’t believe that the
initiative is gonna pass, but if it does, I think it’s
gonna immediately be challenged in court and it
would take some time before it became
implemented over time. And I’m also not in favor of
the issue of sanctuary city of the label of sanctuary
city being even in the future, if the initiative passes. I’m against the label
of sanctuary city for the law enforcement
but also economic reasons down the line. – Ms. Romero if you’re mayor and the city faces
this budget shortfall where do you make ends meet? – As mayor, I’m not
gonna let that happen. I’m going to fight fiercely to make sure that we put
together a legal strategy to not lose that money. There is a possibility,
there have been threats by the Governor and
the state legislature that they will come
after the city of Tucson if this initiative passes. So, my position has
been well documented, I do not support it because
I know how the state is going to act. Now, if the voters of Tucson
passed the initiative, then I will head
with our legal team to the state Supreme
Court and fight as hell to make sure that we
are not in a place where we lose state funding, especially because
that’s $125 million that belong to the residents
of the city of Tucson. It’s not something that the
state leg gives us, right? It’s something that belongs
to the voters of Tucson. It is their tax dollars. And so what I would like to do, because I’ve been a proponent, and I passed the immigrant
welcoming city’s ordinance in the city of Tucson, what I’d like to do is make sure that if this initiative fails, that we work as a community to make sure that the crux
of the problem is attacked, which is S.B. 1070. That is a law that passed,
and the governor signed it and they have the state
legislature and the governor have the ability to repeal it. And so the city of
Tucson is not the issue. We are not the problem,
the problem is S.B. 1070, and I think that we
need to work together to repeal that initiative. – Okay in the interest of time, we’ll move on now to prop 409. That would raise the salaries of the mayor and
the City Council, something voters haven’t
approved since 1999. The mayor’s annual pay would
rise from 42,000 to $63,000. City Council members would see
their salaries nearly double, from 24,000 to $42,000 a year. Ms. Romero, I wanna
start with you. You’ve been on the
council to support this? – I believe in paying
workers living wages, and that includes
elected officials. What I have seen as a proponent
of electing more women and LGBTQ plus communities,
and people of color, I have seen that it is
very difficult to recruit, especially those that
are heads of households are not independently wealthy,
or have a retirement check. And so I believe that
it would be much better for our community to have much
more diverse representation at all levels of government,
to pay a living wage. $42,000 is the median
average wage of Tucsonans. I think that council
members deserve that. And 63,000 is that medium
average wage of administrators, which would be something
that the mayor would get. So, you know, people that
are not independently wealthy or are retired, cannot really
afford to run for office. So I believe in living wages, and I believe people
should get paid for their dedication
to the community. And yes, so I am a yes for 409. – Mr. Cease, do you agree
with this proposition? – I do not support this measure,
and I’d like to see why. As Regina alluded to, I
also support living wages. However, the community
of Tucson as a whole does not have living wages. We don’t have a $15
an hour minimum wage. Under my administration,
we’re going to enact that. So I think we need to take
care of the community first, prior to elected officials. So that’s why I’m
opposed to this measure. $15 an hour that’s a figure
that’s set for a living wage for all of the members of
the the community of Tucson. – Okay, Mr. Ackerley, will
give you the last word on this. – I’m absolutely in favor of it. I believe that the bipartisan
commission that came up with a recommendation
thoroughly vetted this. And I also would say that,
you know, we need to encourage people to run for office. And the incentive needs to be
that they don’t have to leave their business and not be
able to afford to live, so they need to have
enough money to live while they’re serving
in their civic duty and living so I’m a
big proponent of this. – Okay back to the
issue of public safety. TPD employs about 800
officers in a city of 545,000, and tells me that it needs 950 for a population of this size. In Tucson a new officer earns
just over $47,000 a year. That’s slightly less than
what the surrounding towns of Oro Valley, Marana
and Sahuarita offer. The Pima County
Sheriff’s Department pays new hires about the same
but raises their pay to 53,000 after they complete an
18-month probation period. Understanding that that
time that it takes to ensure that an officer is prepared
and ready to hit the streets. How do you manage
that in the interim, given the deficit, Mr. Ackerley? – Well, first off, there’s
880 positions available that are already budgeted,
but we can’t find the officers to fill those positions. There’s actually 763
commissioned officers, at the present, if
you count the CSOs, there’s a little more than that. But I think the issue has to
do with we send the 35 people through the academy and
not all of them last through that process, and
maybe we’ll get a dozen or 20 out of that. But at the same time, there’s
attrition on the backside of people retiring and people
leaving for other forces. So the net loss of
the city has continued over a period of time we
have to reverse that trend and figure out a way
to get more officers through the the Academy,
figure out another way of maybe having more Academies
so that we are filling the pipeline faster so that we
can fill those 180 positions, and get that done immediately. And I do believe
that public safety is the single most
important thing that the mayor and City
Council can work on. And so it needs to be a
priority in the budget, and it needs to be a priority
for the city to reverse that trend of declining numbers. Back when Mayor
Walkup was a mayor, there were over 1200 officers engaged in the Tucson
police department. So we’re down quite
a few from that, just a few short years ago. – Mr. Cease, any thoughts
on how you manage that deficit in the meantime? – My office is going
to take a hard look at this $1.4 billion budget
as I alluded to earlier, there’s a number
of different things that are gonna be reprioritized, including public safety
that Ed was referring to. I did have the opportunity
a number of years ago to serve on the Citizens
Advisory Committee. And $1.4 billion budget,
the money is there, but we need to go through it
and I will direct my staff to reprioritize in order
to fund public safety and other measures. – Okay, Ms. Romero
same question. – The budget is $1.4 million,
but that includes grants. The general fund
budget is $566 million. We have to make sure
that we continue budgeting for more classes so that we can continue
training officers because we have attrition,
we have about six officers that retire per month. The mayor and Council and
that’s including myself, we recently gave across
the board 2.5% increase plus we budgeted $3.5 million so that we could
increase salaries for
our police officers. Now, we’re at a place where
we’re much more competitive with the sheriff’s department and cities and towns
around the region. It is about budgeting, it is
about putting it on the budget on the general fund budget, but it’s also about creating
revenue for our city. And being very, very aggressive
about going for grants in the federal government. The federal government
has many, many grants that we can tap into, to
hire more police officers. And so it is a
public safety issue, it is a quality of life
issue and it is a priority to make sure that we
serve our community and have good response
times for our community, which is something that
I’ve been hearing a lot of, and work together to get there. – Okay let’s keep the focus
on funding Tucson’s economy a common criticism
the city receives, homes in on its slow
recovery from the recession, especially when compared
to the Phoenix Metro area. In 2017 business growth
in the Tucson Metro area increased 1/2 a percent,
while the rest of the state posted a rate of 3.5%. Now in the past, the Tucson
Metro chamber has told us that infrastructure like roads, often factor into a
company’s decision to expand or relocate
to a new city. On the issue of
roads, as we know, the Regional
Transportation Authority is sort of coming to a close
if you look toward 2026, do you support Mr. Ackerley,
we’ll start with you, an extension a
continuation of that, perhaps in the form of
a 1/2 cent sales tax. – I do support the
extension of that, I also support the possibility
that part of the RTA funds would be used for maintenance, maybe up to 20% of
funds would be allocated towards maintenance of
roads and repair of roads and repaving of
roads where need be. And this would be the first time that the RTA would be involved
in that because normally, they’re involved in
capital improvements and building roads as
opposed to repairing them. So, I think that if they
move in that direction, that’s a positive thing. But I am in favor of
the reauthorization. – Okay Ms. Romero? – Yes, I do, I want to. Right now is the time where
the sausage is being made, with the Regional
Transportation Authority. We have to make sure
that the package that’s being put together is
fair and adequate investment for the citizens of Tucson which contribute 45
or 46% of the taxes that go to the Regional
Transportation Authority pot, we have to make sure that that
package that’s being prepared has maintenance and
operation funds, that it has funds for complete
streets, not just roads, but complete streets, that
it has funds for transit. And so I do support
continued investment in transportation and transit. But it really has to have
a defined mobility approach to how we invest, our
citizens’ taxpayer funds. And I’ll tell you infrastructure is one of the most important
things that governments need to invest in. And as mayor, I will make
sure that I work not just with the Regional
Transportation Authority, if we move in that direction, but also with the
federal government and with the state government, because we need a
good transportation
and transit system to be able to have
continued private investment in our community. – Okay, Mr. Cease? – So I do not support the
1/2 cent sales tax measure for a couple of
different reasons. One is Regina alluded
to this that these funds are earmarked to
primarily road building, we don’t need road building. Road maintenance is
an important issue, and we do need to address that. But more importantly,
we also need to address a systematic change to
our transportation system. To support multi
modes, public transit, under my administration, this is going to be
systemically overhauled and systemically changed. – Okay, Mr. Cease, thank you. Let’s start to wrap things up. And I wanna start
with you Mr. Ackerley. Let’s say four years comes
and passes, you’re the mayor. How is life different
in the city of Tucson under your leadership? – I think one of the things
we need to do as a community is invest some more
in Visit Tucson, and the marketing of Tucson
is a wonderful place to live. I tell the story of getting
on a plane and going somewhere and you get off the plane and someone ask you
where are you from? You say, I’m from Tucson and you begin to tell all the
wonderful things about Tucson but you get back on the plane, get off a Tia, and right
down Tucson Boulevard, many people start to complain
about police, fire roads, parks, and all the things
that are wrong with Tucson. I think one of the things we
can do in the next four years is talk about the positive
things that Tucson has to offer. It’s a great place
to raise a family, it’s a fantastic place
to grow a business, it’s a great place
to go to school, it’s a great place to be
stationed at Davis-Monthan. And I think that
we as a community we need to begin to look
at the positive things that we can do together
and jump in together and solve problems and
not always be complaining about all the terrible
things that are going on. But jumping in and making our
place even a better community and that’s what I would
see in four years. – Ms. Romero after four
years and you’re the mayor, how’s life changed in
the city of Tucson? – Under a Romero tenure we will
see a good quality of life, economic opportunities
for families, and we will see our climate
action plan in action. We need to make sure
that we are bold and push the envelope
in how we are creating our city of Tucson as a
climate resilient city. We will see a diversified
economic development strategy where we have a small business and startup incentive program in our economic
development strategy. We must invest in our small
businesses in this community. And we will see
continued investment in quality of life issues right? We need to have the appropriate
amount of police officers and firefighters, continued
investment in our infrastructure and roads, good partnerships with our congressional
delegation, and hopefully, that
we continue working on making sure that
we take advantage of what makes Tucson
unique, right? Our nature, our
history, our culture, we need to continue
investing in those elements protecting those elements,
highlighting those elements so that we are
competitive, safe, clean, just sustainable city
with economic opportunity for all families. – Okay, thank you, Mr. Cease, how’s life different under
a Cease administration in the city of Tucson? – Well, four years from now,
after I’m elected mayor, we will look back, and
we will see a community that is responding
on a massive scale for economic revitalization, and for responding to
the climate crisis. I mentioned earlier that
this is not a small program, this is not incremental,
little changes. We’re gonna see hundreds
of thousands of homes and businesses retrofitted
with solar energy conservation and water harvesting. – Okay, we have just
a moment of time left and I wanna get your
thoughts on this. We’ve all had time to reflect on the Rothschild administration
here in the city of Tucson. And I’d like to know if you
could have seen Mayor Rothschild do one thing differently
during his tenure, what would it have been Ms.
Remero, we’ll start with you. – It’s very unfair to
start with (laughs) It’s been a pleasure working
with Mayor Rothschild for the past eight years, and he had a very clear
approach to the investments he wanted to see in
the city of Tucson. It’s back to basics,
it’s very simple. We moved together- – Could you have done
anything differently? – I think that we could
have done much more in terms of climate action. But that’s what I see
that I’d like to continue. I’d like to make sure that
we’re working on the successes of Mayor Rothschild’s tenure,
and move on climate action, an aggressive bold
Climate Action Plan, because that is an
economic investment that we need in this
in this community and if we do not have
a livable community, without any future
water resources, nothing else will matter. And so, climate
action and you know, a diversified strategy
for Economic Development. I think that we have to
make sure that we continue our partnerships and our
economic development strategy with Mexico, and we’re in
a space where we are ripe to continue that
development with Mexico, so that I’ll work
on that as well. – Okay, Mr. Cease anything
that Mayor Rothschild could have done differently. – There’s a number
of things that- – How about one? – But the most important one is I would have liked to
have seen Mayor Rothschild not be a vocal opponent
of sanctuary city. Sanctuary is a human right,
and I’ve shared this example. I’d like to share
it with your viewers that when the
horrendous atrocity committed by white nationalist
occurred in El Paso a couple months ago,
many, many of the victims were afraid to a,
talk to the police, and b, go to the hospital to treat their
wounds and injuries. So this collaboration does
exist, within our community and that needs to
change and I’m to say that I’m highly disappointed
in Mayor Rothschild in vocally opposing this
measure is an understatement. – Okay, thank you Mr. Ackerley? – It’s hard to criticize
Mayor Rothschild. He’s a friend of mine,
and I really respect what he’s done over
the last eight years. I will say the one issue
that’s kind of been a sleeper for the campaign and
for the whole entire election process is water. And I think that water hasn’t
really taken the forefront that it needs to. If we’re gonna be looking at
sustainability for 50 years, down the road, water becomes
an issue and that sometimes isn’t talked about much
at the council meetings. And does not get the focus
that it sometimes deserves. And I think that’s
something as a community, that we need to address
and bring to the forefront in a more robust way, and making sure that we
have the resources available in the future that
would be important for increased population
that’s sure to come to Tucson over the next 20 years. – Okay, and that
concludes our discussion with three mayoral candidates. Thank you so much for your time. And as we have less
than 20 days to go, best of luck to
all three of you. – Thank you very much. – Thank you for having us. – We have more about
the candidates running for mayor and City
Council on azpm.org, and we surveyed them
on a number of issues. You can read their responses
in our candidate guide. And as a reminder, you
need to mail ballots back to the city by October
30th or drop them off at a designated location
on Election Day, which is November 5th. And that’s all for now,
thanks for joining us. To get in touch visit
us on social media, or send an email to
[email protected] We’ll see you next week. (gentle music)

2 thoughts on “Arizona 360: Tucson mayoral candidate forum

  1. What a joke RR is! Her first thought is NOT about the safety of Tucson residents.
    body language says her brain is searching for the most ambiguous terminology to answer the question while she stretches out
    her words, instead of saying um.
    Cease and climate crisis, good grief! Tell me, is consensus in science a good thing or a bad thing? (hint, it's bad). Tell me, just what IS the "ideal" temperature for Planet Earth? If we have a larger population now, then centuries ago, wouldn't it be better to have a slightly higher temp to have longer growing seasons?
    If the science is settled and the oceans are rising, why is are no business entities fleeing coastal lands? Do they hope to stop "mother nature?"
    If little barry soetero obama REALLY was a believer in this AGW nonsense, do you really think he would have spent $15 million buying 29 acres of coastal property? If he's a believer, he certainly is unconvincing about it! bwhahahahahahahaha!!!!!!!

    Hey candidates, what are you going to do about the BLIGHT downtown of these UNSAFE scooters???????? WHAT A FRIGGING EYESORE!! AND WHAT A TRAGEDY WAITING TO HAPPEN! Are riders allowed to ride down travel lanes in 2s while turning around and sneering at the cars behind them?

  2. I’m fairly proud of all three candidates. They came across as decent people with a desire to do good for their community. Kudos to all three and may the city do well under whomever wins.

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