Ward 3 Democrats and independents have a big choice ahead of them: Which of the three candidates in the Aug. 29 primary should they pick to carry the party's nomination into the fall election?
The Weekly endorses Paul Durham.
Durham is smart and capable Democrat who understands the issues facing the city. He has experience as a former chief of staff in the Ward 6 office. He's committed to expanding the city's commitment to renewable energy, a vital step in countering climate change. He's a former corporate attorney whose experience could prove vital when it comes time to lure major companies to Tucson to expand the economy. He supports the city's transit system without making unrealistic promises about increasing the budget.
And when he was asked to pander to an audience at a forum, he told them he couldn't promise to increase the budget by specific amounts for various worthwhile programs.
It's not that Durham doesn't support the programs; he just recognized that it would be irresponsible to promise funding that he didn't know he could deliver on.
Throughout this campaign, Durham has walked door-to-door to personally introduce himself to many Ward 3 residents and ask for their vote, which demonstrates that he has a commitment to the hard work of being on the Tucson City Council.
He's been accessible to the press and the public, which tells us he'll both listen and explain his thinking if he's elected to the council.
It was a tough call between Durham and Tom Tronsdal, whose experience running a small business and commitment to a host of nonprofits in our community would make him an ideal council member. Tronsdal is a solid family man who has worked to make Tucson a better place and we're hoping to see more from him in the future.
We're less impressed with the third candidate in the race, Felicia Chew. While we salute her work as a teacher, she hasn't demonstrated a good grasp of the limits of the city budget. Her suggestion that the bus system is way underfunded is one example; if there's one area where the city has been plenty generous in tight times, it's the buses. Her eagerness to raise taxes also suggests she just can't say no when it comes to spending proposals. She wants a higher sales tax so the city can get into the business of funding early childhood education; she wants a higher sales tax for the zoo; and she wants higher taxes for the buses (and she doesn't even know what kind of transit tax she wants; she told us she wanted to find a "dedicated funding source" for the buses and then confessed she didn't know what kind of tax that would be.)
And that's not even taking into account the weird incident last week where she started singing about bat poop in the middle of a Ward 3 forum.
As entertaining as some songs might be during the council meetings, we think it speaks to Chew's lack of judgment regarding civic affairs, as does her failure to even start voting in local elections until two years ago. And that vote for Green Party candidate Jill Stein in last year's presidential race doesn't reflect well on her.
In short, we don't have faith that Chew would do a good job of managing the city's affairs or providing constituent services to the citizens of Ward 3.
Times are a little better in the city of Tucson. The streets are getting fixed, we're luring businesses here, and the budget is finally balanced.
We need to build on that success with the best available leaders. Vote wisely, Ward 3. Vote for Paul Durham.