Written Answers of Jake Martin in Debate for Pima County Supervisor District 1

Here are the answers of Jake Martin:

Q: The poverty rate in Pima County is about 15%. What should the county’s role be in lowering that rate? Do you see any steps the county has taken in recent years that you think are working well, or any that aren’t working and should be discontinued?

The poverty rate in Pima County is about 15%. What should the county’s role be in lowering that rate? Do you see any steps the county has taken in recent years that you think are working well, or any that aren’t working and should be discontinued?

In Pima County, poverty is not just an abstract concept—it’s a stark reality that manifests in rising opioid use, lack of resources, and poor education access, particularly among those experiencing homelessness (1). As someone who
works on the frontline of this crisis, I witness its devastating effects every day.

I carry Narcan, respond to hospitals in cases of sexual and domestic violence, and engage in the relentless battle against poverty on our streets. I’ve had the privilege of talking to and hearing the stories of those who are experiencing poverty and homelessness. Almost all of them tell me that the primary reason that they are homeless is because they have fallen through the gaping cracks in our social service, healthcare, and law enforcement systems.

To truly address poverty, we must first address these systemic failures. That’s why I want to invest in the establishment of the Pima Family Advocacy Center—a centralized hub providing comprehensive support for individuals in crisis. By consolidating social services, law enforcement, and healthcare under one roof, we can bridge the gaps that have long been present in our community.\

Unfortunately, Pima County has a history of turning a blind eye to poverty, often opting for vague projects that fail to reach those in dire need. We cannot afford to kick the can down the road any longer. What we need is swift, decisive, and transparent action led by those who understand the realities on the ground because they have experienced them.

We must move beyond empty political rhetoric and prioritize solutions that directly address the needs of our homeless population. It’s time to close the cracks in our system and provide tangible support to those who need it most.

Q: Local governments are negotiating RTA Next before they put it before the voters. What should the county’s top priorities be in these negotiations? What should the county do if the City of Tucson withdraws from RTA Next?

In negotiations for RTA Next, the county’s top priorities should absolutely include expanding public transit access and investing in pedestrian and biking infrastructure. When I was 14 years old, I got my first internship. But as a
teenager without access to a car, getting to work wasn’t easy. Every morning, I had to walk 3 miles to reach a bus stop to get to work. It took significant time and effort, and not everyone has the ability to walk 3 miles just to access public transit.

Unfortunately, my experience is not unique. Many people face difficulties in accessing reliable transportation. By not expanding the RTA, we’re essentially limiting opportunities for our workers and hindering our economy. Investing in our public transit system isn’t just about improving convenience—it’s about investing in our people and our economy. Expanding public transit access means more than just adding more buses. It means strategically planning routes that serve underserved areas, increasing frequency and reliability, and ensuring affordability for all residents. Additionally, investing in pedestrian and biking infrastructure is crucial for promoting alternative modes of transportation that are healthier and more environmentally friendly.

Regardless of Tucson’s decision, the county must remain committed to advocating for transportation solutions that prioritize equity, sustainability, and community input. By actively engaging with stakeholders, exploring alternative partnerships, and continuing to invest in critical transportation infrastructure, the county can ensure that the region’s transportation needs are addressed effectively, even in the absence of full participation from the City of Tucson.

Q: The green economy depends on minerals like copper that are mined in Pima County. How do you balance the need to fight climate change with the environmental damage that often comes with mining? What should the
county do about the Copper World project?

Copper mines are critical for the economy of Pima County, from job creation to the raw materials that they produce. That being said, copper mining and Hudbay itself have a long history of misrepresenting data before mining projects are initiated.(2) We need comprehensive environmental impact studies that are conducted by unbiased third parties before we greenlight any new copper mines.

In addition, we’ll need a comprehensive economic impact report from the mining companies that has been independently audited. The people deserve to know specifically how many jobs for Arizonans will be created, not for specialists that the mining company ships in from out of state. We’ll also need to know specifically how much it will add to the local economy. I am all for mining practices as long as we can ensure that they’re doing what they say they are and that we’re holding companies to a high standard of sustainability. I’d also like to see it easier to hold these companies accountable. If they fail to meet the standards that they promise, it should be easier to revoke permitting. The Copper World Project in particular fails all of the standards that I’ve just laid out.

The proposed copper mine will use 5,100 acre-feet of water per year (3), that’s enough to sustain roughly 20,000 homes (4). As water scarcity becomes a larger and larger problem, the question of where we want to invest those resources becomes more and more pressing. Companies like Hudbay need to be accountable for what they do to our environment.

As your supervisor, I will absolutely ensure transparency, clarity, and accountability for any mining operation that wants to come to town. Risking our water and environment isn’t worth it for short-term gain.

Q: The county faces costly choices when it comes to the jail, such as replacing it entirely or investing in repairing it. What do you see as the main problems at the jail? Can repairs to the jail address those problems or should the county replace it?

As a candidate, I am deeply invested in our community’s well-being. I’ve made it my mission to understand the challenges facing our corrections system firsthand. Recently, my nonprofit introduced a new program that’s designed to provide critical mental health support to inmates at the Pima County jail.

About two weeks ago, I went on a tour of the jail with my staff to finalize details regarding the program. While there, I had the opportunity to actually meet the inmates, hear their stories, and have conversations with them about their futures. This experience has given me unique insight into the complex issues we’re up against.

The jail is facing serious problems, from overcrowding to crumbling infrastructure. While some might see renovation as a Band-Aid solution, I firmly believe it’s the most practical and effective approach. Spending over $800 million on a shiny new facility just isn’t a responsible use of taxpayer dollars (5).

The jail needs to be physically renovated. We need to add more space, and we need to update some of the facilities inside, but we also need to look beyond just physical changes. We can take this opportunity to make real structural changes within our jail and update flawed or outdated systems. That means actually investing in mental health support, creating services for inmates, and actually treating them like people. Because when we treat our inmates with respect, decency, and provide them with what they need to get better, we actually see reduced recidivism, reduced crime, and a stronger community (6) (7). Let’s renovate the jail, sure, but let’s do it with purpose. We can build a better system from the bottom up.

Q: Pima County, and most of the country, is going through a mutli-faceted housing crisis. What do you see as the most pressing problem with regard to housing? What specific steps would you take to address it?

I see homelessness as the most pressing problem with regard to housing. As someone who works directly with homeless populations and regularly engages with individuals experiencing homelessness, I am acutely aware of the crisis facing our community. While initiatives to increase affordable housing are important, we cannot ignore the ballooning homelessness crisis that demands immediate attention. These people are not lost causes, but rather a growing segment of our community who are facing very hard economic and personal challenges.

According to the Tucson-Pima Collaboration to End Homelessness, the homeless rate in Pima County has risen by a staggering 60% since 2018 (8), leaving approximately 2200 individuals without stable housing in our community
(9). What Pima County is doing right now just isn’t enough—the data alone should prove that. We need people with actual experience in addressing homelessness leading the charge against it—those who take the time to understand what makes people homeless, not those who just write policy, kick the can down the road, and hope it gets better.

The time to address it is now, we need to be proactive in ensuring that this crisis does not get worse. To address this urgent issue, we must prioritize practical and affordable housing-first approaches. This means working collaboratively with nonprofits and community organizations to expand shelter space and get people a stable roof
over their heads and off of our streets (10). Then, we focus on providing wraparound support services, and offer job training programs aimed at reducing the number of individuals experiencing homelessness on our streets.

By investing in initiatives that prioritize housing stability and support services, we can make meaningful progress in ensuring that all residents of Pima County have access to safe, stable, and affordable housing options.


  1. https://www.americanprogress.org/article/lack-housing-mental-health-disabilities-
  2. https://earthworks.org/issues/copper-sulfide-mining/#:~:text=A%20peer%2Drevie
  3. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2024/03/07/cop
  4. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2024/03/07/cop
  5. https://azluminaria.org/2024/02/06/pima-county-commission-new-jail-could-cost-
  6. https://www.brookings.edu/articles/a-better-path-forward-for-criminal-justice-chan
  7. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/2516606920904296
  8. https://tpch.net/wp-content/uploads/TPCH-2023-Point-in-Time-Count-Housing-Uti
  9. https://tpch.net/wp-content/uploads/TPCH-2023-Point-in-Time-Count-Housing-Uti
  10. https://endhomelessness.org/resource/housing-first/
  11. https://tpch.net/wp-content/uploads/TPCH-2023-Point-in-Time-Count-Housing-Uti
  12. https://tpch.net/wp-content/uploads/TPCH-2023-Point-in-Time-Count-Housing-Uti
  13. https://app.powerbigov.us/view?r=eyJrIjoiMjU4NGYxMGYtZmQ5Yi00OTdhLTkzZ

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