Safeguarding Voting Rights
Championing Tax Fairness instead of trickle-down flat tax proposals.
Implementing the American Rescue Plan and hoping for the American Jobs and Families Plans to pass.
Navigating the new CDC Mask Recommendations
Combatting Climate Change and Building a Clean Energy Sustainable Tucson.
Reforming and Improving public safety.
Ensuring equity for all communities in Tucson.
Those are some of the issues Mayor Regina Romero and the Tucson City Council are currently working on as the city and its resident’s transition from pandemic mode to living normal everyday lives.
Mayor Romero graciously took time to respond to questions on the issues she, the Tucson City Council, and the people face going into the summer.
The questions and her responses are below.
1) Please explain at least two ways the American Rescue Plan has helped Tucson.
- “A few of the most important pieces were the $1400 Stimulus checks that was an infusion to the local economy, small business assistance, and the resulting increase in local economic activity. It made a huge difference for us in Tucson.
- We have a lot of discretion on how we can spend the direct funding to Tucson. I want to partner with not-for-profits that will aid workers and families in need as well as cultural and entertainment venues. I also want to invest in transformative projects that will last a long time and have a lasting effect for Tucsonans, such as affordable housing. Affordable housing is especially needed for residents who live up to two hundred percent of median income.
- Thanks to the ARP and CARES ACT, we have been able to keep public transit afloat when ridership took a severe dip. We have also been able to suspend fares for all public transportation since the beginning of the pandemic, and are planning to keep fares suspended until at least the end of the fiscal year.”
2) Please explain at least three ways the American Jobs and Families Plans can help Tucson.
“I am very excited about the American Jobs and Families Plan and its holistic approach to:
- Infrastructure projects that will help make us a climate-resilient city and a bus rapid transit system that is accessible and convenient.
- Supporting the City of Tucson’s Electric-Vehicle (EV) Readiness Road Map, where we hope to receive several of the 500,000 EV stations Biden has proposed in the AJP.
- Incredible investment in education with four years of additional schooling (two years of safe and quality universal pre-kindergarten and two years of free community college.) Education is the great equalizer and improves the economy of our cities. It has made the difference in my life and the lives of my children.
The comprehensive paid family and medical leave program that the Biden/Harris Administration proposed in the American Families Plan. It is something many families struggle to get by without. It is very strenuous for single mothers and working families. All other developed nations that we compete with have paid family leave and it is time for us to catch up.”
3) Please describe the two most important sustainability/clean energy goals you and the City Council will be pursuing this year.
- “Electrification of our city bus fleet. Green House emissions from transportation are the biggest contributors to climate change. For me and the Council, it is important that we start with the full electrification of our city fleet. We are about to operationalize our first 5 electric buses, with an additional 5 on the way. We have been successful in pursuing federal grants for electric buses, with the support of Tucson Electric Power (TEP), who provides the charging infrastructure. Last September, as a part of our “Climate Emergency Declaration,” Mayor & Council approved a goal to make our public transit fleet all-electric by 2030.
- The Electric Vehicle Road Map and the infrastructure that needs to be developed and prepared for. We will need to change our building codes and create a grid of EV charging stations. This will include working with our partners in the private sector and the state.”
4) To what extent will the passing of SB1485 (the PEVL purge) hurt Tucson residents and their voting rights? Please explain.
“Republicans in our State Legislature appear to live in an alternative universe where there is mass voter fraud and the 2020 Presidential election was stolen from them. All of the data suggests that mail-in elections have been very effective and safe. It improves turnout and helps people participate in the electoral process. The more people participate in our election, the stronger our democracy is. Now Republicans in the State Legislature are worried they will lose if more people vote, and they want to stop that. The bigger threat to election integrity is the Republican attempt to spread the false fraud narrative, not voter fraud.”
5) To what extent have the recent CDC recommendations on mask-wearing caused implementation concerns and confusion for you and the City Council? Please explain.
“The only concern we have is there is no way to distinguish who is vaccinated and who is not making, mask requirements difficult to enforce.
We decided to remove the mask requirements while asking people to follow CDC guidance and get vaccinated.
So far, about half of Pima County has received at least one shot.”
6) Are there any major policy issues that you and the Tucson City Council are working on that you would like the readers to be aware of? Please describe.
“It is very important for me to listen to what communities of color have had to say after the murder of George Floyd. I introduced a new Community Safety Program, and we are in the process of budgeting for prevention programs and dual/alternative response models. Not every emergency call needs a police officer with a gun. We want to hire more social workers and mental health professionals. This will also require us to work closely with our 911 call center in order to ensure the most appropriate response.
Secondly, we are working through the Tucson Million Trees Initiative to achieve our goal of planting 1 million trees by 2030. It is a natural way to combat climate change and beautify the city. If we do it right and equitably, we will reduce the heat island effect, especially in low-income communities. We have kicked off the program and we have hired an urban forestry manager. We are also working with Trees for Tucson to help accomplish our goals.”