by Jim Nintzel
So who wants to be mayor of this crazy burg, anyway?
As Republican Bob Walkup wraps up his third term, it appears as if next to nobody does.
Maybe Tucson’s titanic budget problems are discouraging ambitions. Maybe more people would be launching campaigns if voters had boosted the mayor’s pay up from a mere $42,000 a year. Or maybe they just want to keep their names out of this blog.
Whatever the reason, there’s a paucity of experienced pols who want to rule the city from the top floor of City Hall.
Then again: It’s not that different from 2007, when the Democrats, despite a decisive voter-registration advantage, failed to field a candidate against Walkup, allowing him to clobber Green Party nominee Dave Croteau.
Walkup has yet to say whether he’s going for another term. Much of the chattering class predicts the 74-year-old mayor is ready to retire, but we’ve heard whispers that he’s giving serious thought to another run.
Hizzoner has moved the annual State of the City spectacle from late January to Feb. 22. We suspect that’s when he’ll want to make his Big Reveal.
Democrat Jonathan Rothschild, a business attorney who recently surrendered his position as managing partner at Mesch Clark & Rothschild, has yet to formally announce his candidacy, but he had a swank fundraiser at Etherton Gallery a few weeks ago and his Web site features hundreds of supporters, including
former mayors George Miller and Tom Volgy, alongside a long list of developers, environmentalists, lawyers, doctors, artists and political activists of various stripes.
With all that early politicking, Rothschild may have succeeded in chasing all the other Democrats out of the race; we hear that Councilwoman Shirley Scott is likely to soon announce she’s going for a fifth term representing the southeast side’s Ward 4 this year.
Republican Shaun McClusky, who made his political debut with an unsuccessful campaign for City Council against Democrat Richard Fimbres two years ago, says he’ll decide in the next few days if he’s going to run for mayor.
“My goal is to get the citizens of Tucson and our City Council back on track and going in the right direction,” McClusky says. “I firmly believe we can get Steve Kozachik help. I don’t believe the mayor and council are doing what’s best for Tucson. … I’m pretty good at stirring up the situation.”
He describes his potential candidacy as something of a process of elimination because the guys he’d really like to see run for mayor live in the county.
“I’ve asked everybody and his brother who should run,” McClusky says. “Nobody can come up with a name of someone who lives in the city.”
McClusky has no worries about challenging a fellow Republican, should Walkup decide to run.
“I don’t believe that Bob Walkup has done anything in the last 12 years that has been productive and promoting toward the city of Tucson,” he says.
McClusky, who has been using his Facebook account to pursue something of a jihad against City Manager Mike Letcher for the last several months, got hooked on city politics during his council race, which he lost by roughly 4,500 votes citywide.
Last year, he chaired the effort to defeat the half-cent sales tax that city officials hoped would help them bridge an estimated $50 million deficit this year. Prop 400 was rejected by 61 percent of city voters.
After the election, McClusky was slapped with a $18,450 fine by city officials because he failed to note the top contributors to his campaign in a television ad. That’s a pretty steep penalty, given that he only raised $16,284 for the entire campaign.
We’ll have the latest on that in our print edition.
If he decides to run for mayor, McClusky might face a fight for the nomination from Republican Ron Asta, who ran for mayor as a Democrat way back in 1983.
“I’m taking a hard look at it,” Asta says. “I’m not ready to make an announcement or start campaigning, though, because I have people to talk to.”
Asta, who was elected to one term on the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1972 on a platform of protecting the environment, has worked as a consultant to developers in the quarter-century since his failed mayoral bid.
For those of you who were wondering: Ray Depa, the former general manager of KGUN-TV, Channel 9, debunked rumors that he’s interested in running for mayor.
Depa, who recently took on a job selling advertising and sponsorships for the new Triple-A Tucson Padres, says he’s happy with his current gig.
“Going to work at a ballpark every day—America, what a great country,” Depa says.