/ Modified dec 11, 2016 12:36 p.m.

Tucsonans Seek Civility After Contentious Election Season

Plus, minimum wage effects, firefighting overseas, Tucson economic outlook.

After a divisive election, people are looking for ways to dial down the polarization, and one Tucson event this week aimed to get people talking, and listening, to each other.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik and Our Family Services hosted an event that prompted small-group conversations at 20 tables. They talked about what people want for the community and what they want from their leaders.

Elected officials from Tucson Unified School District, the Legislature, Sahuarita Town Council and two radio talk show hosts joined the event. First, they suggested what could be improved in politics. Then, they listened to the participants' suggestions.

“The first thing that strikes me is to not depend on our leaders to get us out of this," said Mark Hoffman, one of the participants. "I think we need to be an engaged electorate, an engaged community that goes beyond an election, and we need to hold people accountable."

Others suggested personal involvement, too.

“To be a community we want to live in we should be focusing on being political by volunteering, understanding the issues that surround us, engaging people differently, and starting at the grassroots, getting involved," said Elaine MacPherson. "We want leaders to take us forward by focusing on respect, being civil, rising above their own issues to see the community needs.”

The event was meant to attract a general audience, but at least at some tables, the participants were uniformly concerned about the presidential election outcome.

“At our table we had people who were in the main in agreement with how we were feeling, so we didn’t get to engage with people who were feeling different from us," said Peggy Wenrick.

It was still a worthy exercise, she said.

"Nevertheless I think it’s a value, I think it’s critical and hopefully in the future more people with different political points of view will come and participate.”

Also in this episode:

  • Goodwill Industries of Southern Arizona will retrain some of its employees and may end up reorganizing in order to accommodate the higher minimum wage Arizonans voted for. The nonprofit organization employs 518 people, and 280 of them make minimum wage, said Judith Simmons, the nonprofit's marketing director. The increase to $10 an hour begins in January.

  • Mt. Lemmon Fire Chief Randy Ogden will retire this month, and he recently spent time doing something he'd never done before in his career: fighting fires in Israel. Hear about his experience and how different it was to be in such a unique political environment.

  • The University of Arizona's Eller College of Management releases an economic update every year. This year, there's mixed news for the Tucson area, according to George Hammond, the director of Eller's Economic and Business Research Center.

  • Visit the USS Arizona memorial, dedicated on the mall of the University of Arizona days before the 75th anniversary of the deadly attacks that prompted the U.S. to enter World War II.

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