A meet-and-greet breakfast with the final two Tucson police chief candidates was a bit of a bust Friday morning – just one City Council member was among an estimated two dozen people in attendance.
The informal 90-minute meeting with assistant chiefs John Leavitt and Roberto Villaseñor was billed as an interview with City Council members and the public. But Councilwoman Nina Trasoff and Mayor Robert Walkup were the only council members present.
Few people attended the 8 a.m. meeting at Tucson Convention Center, and a table covered with city department leaders’ nametags remained mostly untouched as did a large breakfast spread.
Trasoff said she will be glad when the chief is chosen. With several departments under new leadership or with top-level vacancies, she is relieved to nearly have one filled.
“This community needs the continuity of knowing who its leaders are,” she said.
Trasoff – who knows both men from working with them on community projects over the years – declined to highlight their differences. She would be happy with either candidate, she said.
Villaseñor was a bit more specific. He brings a broader range of experience than Leavitt, he said.
“I have commanded all four bureaus of the agency, because I’ve been an assistant chief a little longer,” he said.
His management style over the bureaus – patrol, investigations, support services and administrative services – has also been “more conservative,” than Leavitt, he said
He declined to be specific.
Leavitt also avoided comparisons, though he thinks he brings a broader set of community connections because of his work as a school board member for St. Peter and Paul Catholic School, as a member of several judicial selection commissions and involvement in multicultural activities throughout the city.
“I have to think I have some of the deepest community connections of anyone in the department,” Leavitt said.
City Manager Mike Letcher will choose a candidate Friday afternoon and send the name to the council for support or rejection at its meeting Tuesday.