Who is Tucson’s progressive choice for mayor?by Pamela Powers Hannley on Nov. 03, 2011, under 2011 elections, Democratic Party, Mary DeCamp, Politics, Progressive Democrats of America, Tucson
Tucson is in the midst of an all mail-in election for mayor and 3 city council seats. Ballots were mailed to all registered voters a few weeks ago, but I’m sure there are thousands of you out there– like me– who have not voted yet.
If you haven’t voted yet, this one’s for you…
The mayor’s race is a three-way between Republican Rick Grinnell, Democrat Jonathan Rothschild, and Green Mary DeCamp. Last week, I gave you my thoughts on Grinnell (professional lobbyist, member of both Rio Nuevo Boards, and would-be Mayor for the 1%). Today’s post will focus on Rothschild and DeCamp.
After the August primary, the Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) Tucson Chapter e-mailed questionnaires to all of the candidates still left standing– Grinnell, Rothschild, and DeCamp in the mayor’s race, and Republicans Jennifer Rawson and Tyler Vogt, Green Beryl Baker, and Democratic incumbents Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham, and Regina Romero for City Council. The 20 questions were based upon PDA’s core issues: economic and social justice, corporate personhood, universal healthcare, global warming and the environment, fair and transparent elections, and end the wars/redirect the funding.
PDA didn’t really expect the Republicans to answer our questions, and they didn’t. But we were really surprised when none of the Democratic incumbents for City Council answered them either. Only three candidates took the time to answer our questionnaire–Rothschild, DeCamp, and Baker.
Both Rothschild and DeCamp also agreed to personal interviews with 2-3 PDA Steering Committee members. Each of the interviewers scored the questions independently with a possible 2 points for each question for a total of 40 points for a perfect score (ie, the candates’ responses were well-aligned with PDA’s stance on core issues); partial responses received 1 point; and off-the-mark, woefully incomplete, or unanswered responses received 0 points.
In the end, with surprising consistency across the interviewers, the composite scores were: Rothschild 29 and DeCamp 26 (pretty darn close for a mainstream candidate vs a green).
On some issues– like the environment– Rothschild and DeCamp were well-aligned with each other and with PDA. Both of them promote walkable/bikeable neighborhoods, water harvesting and conservation, and solar energy promotion.
On clean elections– they both support clean elections (although DeCamp is running clean and Rothschild isn’t), and they both support limiting campaign contributions. In addition, DeCamp also promotes Instant Runoff Voting, a interesting idea that could eliminate the “Ralph Nadar Effect”.
On other issues– like economic and social justice– they were worlds apart. On job creation, Rothschild’s answers were very mainstream and not detailed: strengthen the educational system; work with the University of Arizona tech transfer department and related businesses to create a technology and research hub; and see his 180 Day Plan (which is very pro-business).
DeCamp’s answers were anything but mainstream. She focused on building local businesses–rather than on attracting new businesses with economic incentives (ie, tax breaks, free land, reduced or no fees, whatever) and building a micro-financing system to help new start-up companies. She also envisions expanding Tucson’s neighborhood centers and broadening their scope by adding tutoring, basic healthcare, free advice from SCORE for new start-up businesses, community-based police stations, space for non-profits (eg, Literacy Volunteers, the Community Food Bank, etc.), and more. When asked how she would pay for expansion of the neighborhood centers (which have suffered budget cuts, staff lay-offs, and reductions in services and hours), she pointed to the millions that Tucson is investing with TREO (the folks who offer those incentives to out-of-state businesses and bring new call center jobs to Tucson) and the Metropolitan Convention and Visitors’ Bureau (the folks who sell cowboys and cactus to get people to vacation in the resorts that ring the city).
At first blush, DeCamp’s Community Conservation Centers seem like pie-in-the-sky for a cash-strapped city but think of the possibilities in business development, educational attainment, healthcare savings, and community-building that this local investment could bring — not to mention directly creating jobs in the centers themselves. I am not dissing Rothschild’s technology hub idea; that’s good, but I’ve heard it before. I think DeCamp’s community center idea is a fresh complement to his. I also like her emphasis on promoting Tucson’s strengths and growing local business– instead of trying to lure businesses or sports teams away from other cities.
This fascinating exercise in democracy left me longing for a mashup mayor between Rothschild and DeCamp. As a member of the Democratic Party’s Executive Committee for several years and as the managing partner of a law firm with city contracts, Rothschild is an insider with connections to the establishment. DeCamp is an outsider with fresh ideas and connections to the activist community– particularly those sympathetic to Occupy Tucson, where she has been camping out since Day 1. (Rothschild hasn’t even visited Occupy Tucson, or if he has, there has been no media coverage of it.)
Here are the questions facing Tucson’s more progressive voters:
Can an establishment candidate break out and seek creative solutions?
Can an anti-establishment candidate survive in our entrenched city government?
Now you see why The Tucson Progressive is still holding onto her mail-in ballot.
What’s a person to do? VOTE.
Election Day is Tuesday, November 8. The deadline is 7 p.m.
If you want to mail your ballot, get it in the mail by Friday, November 4.
If you want to drop off your ballot, here is a list of polling places where you can deposit your mailed ballot.
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