MARY BUSTAMANTE Citizen Staff Writer
It didn’t take Bob Walkup long to make good on his first campaign promise.
The Republican’s first public appearance after being elected mayor Tuesday night was at Carrillo Intermediate Magnet School, 440 S. Main Ave.
It was there in late September that students in third, fourth and fifth grades ”elected” him mayor in a mock vote.
That day, he promised if he were elected by voters he would return to the school as the new mayor.
”(Tuesday) there was an election for mayor, but you were the first people in the whole city to vote for me,” Walkup said to more than 120 students seated in the school cafeteria yesterday.
”I owe you a lot.”
In the mock election, students picked Walkup, even though he was late to a candidate debate.
Because he was tardy, Walkup only had enough time to tell a twominute story about how his dog, Laddie – normally a very good dog – bit him on the hand that morning.
His opponents had talked about how they would curb violence, drug and alcohol abuse and take care of stray animals.
But the kids apparently liked the dog-bites-man story best.
He won the school’s election, taking 111 votes to Democrat Molly McKasson’s 93, and Libertarian Ed Kahn’s 19.
So yesterday, Walkup showed up at the school not only with his wife, Beth, and granddaughter Emily Carter from Albuquerque, N.M., but also with Laddie.
Needless to say, the rescued-from-the-pound, usually non-biting, German shepherd mixed-breed was a hit.
But the 8-, 9- and 10-year-olds didn’t want to talk about Laddie. They wanted to talk about issues.
”What are you going to do about Proposition 200?” one student asked.
”Do you remember when the water was brown?” Walkup asked rhetorically. ”Yuck! As the mayor, I must never allow you to have brown water again. It has to be safe and clean and you have to be able to drink it.”
As for gangs and violence, Walkup said politicians, parents and students must all stand up and say they are not going to go along with violence.
”Be kind to each other like you are to animals and there won’t be so many gangs when you get older,” he said.
Walkup asked the group how many were afraid to walk to school each day. A dozen or so raised their hands.
He said he would do whatever he could to have a city full of ”happy kids” – noting he was a happy kid himself.
When a student asked him what he would do so people could have better-paying jobs, Walkup said he he would work to get well-paying jobs in Tucson so that when they grew up there would be good jobs for them.
”It’s one of the saddest things when we educate and train them and then our young people have to leave this community because there are no jobs for them,” he said.
His advice for the students: The smarter you are, the more important a job you will get and the more important the job, the more money you’ll make.
Walkup promised that, as mayor, he would ”come back in the future and tell you more stories and tell you what’s happening in the city.”
Principal Henry Vega thanked Walkup for ”keeping your promise to come back. That tells them a lot about you.”
Vega reminded his students that the mayor-elect ”could have been at the University of Arizona or El Conquistador resort or the Tucson Convention Center, but he chose to come back where the children are.”
Vega noted the school’s proximity to City Hall.
”We have children and teachers here . . . who would be glad to help,” he told Walkup.
Ariell Files, 9, said she liked Walkup because he ”cares about animals and wouldn’t hurt a person.”
Amanda Carrillo, also 9, said it was good Walkup was ”going to get jobs for us.”
Nine-year-old Francisco Alvarado said the mayor-elect was ”nice and has a good sense of humor.”
That’s important in a politician, the young boy figured.
His mother, Rose Alvarado, who also was at school to listen to Walkup, said the students seemed to be impressed by the way he got along with them.
”They were not ‘just kids’ to him. They were people who had opinions and he got down to their level. He really related to them,” she said.
PHOTO CAPTION: VAL CAÑEZ/Tucson Citizen
Tucson Mayor-elect Bob Walkup high-fives third-grader Santi Bahti, 8, as pupils file into the cafeteria at Carrillo Intermediate School, 440 S. Main Ave., yesterday to hear his speech.