Listen to a radio story about the Ward 4 race:
Residents in Tucson’s southeast side Ward 4 are concerned about the city budget, transportation and public safety, the candidates in the race agreed. They disagree on what needs to be done to improve the quality of life for those residents.
Voters throughout the city elect the members of the city council, but each member represents a specific geographic area. Ward 4 is a sprawling ward on the city’s southeast side.
Burkholder said those are issues for the entire city, and Ward 4. Scott said the ward is distinct from the other five in Tucson.
“What we have in Ward 4 is the opportunity to be the newest economic engine for the city of Tucson,” Scott said. She cited open space as a draw for economic development.
Tucson has been focused on economic development downtown, and Scott said it benefits people on the other side of town in Ward 4 because ticket sales at the Tucson Convention Center show east side residents go downtown for entertainment.
Burkholder agreed a robust downtown is healthy for the city, but said development needs to be balanced geographically throughout the city. She said she wants to draw businesses to Ward 4, which could add revenue to the city’s budget. But, she said annexation is not always the right answer because it can cost the city money or reduced services to meet the new need.
“I have some concerns about annexation and moving bigger,” she said and cited a recent public vote in which residents of the unincorporated Vail area chose not to create a new town.
Scott, on the other hand, said annexations bring new revenue with the new geographic areas they add to the city, and they pay for themselves.
“To date, every annexation that has occurred has been sustainable and self sufficient,” Scott said.
Fees to pay for expanded services such as police and fire and parks, and more state revenue come to the city when it brings unincorporated land into city limits, she said.
Three seats on the Tucson City Council are up for election this year, and the Democratic incumbents each have Republican challengers. Watch interviews with Ward 1 and Ward 2 candidates on last week’s Metro Week episode.
Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, a Democrat, is also up for re-election, though he has no opponent on the ballot. Joshua Jude Chesser is an independent, write-in candidate.
In a Metro Week interview, the mayor discussed the City Council’s recent effort to push Sun Tran to end the 36-day unionized worker strike.
He said he supports the creation of a regional transit authority to remove the bus system from the city's ownership.
One of his priorities for a presumed second term is to increase the city's revenue to solve the long-term budget deficits, he said. That can be done with a focus on business development, annexation of unincorporated land, and reevaluation of the structure of the city's property tax and sales tax, Rothschild said.