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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Wait, what Tucson election? What you need to know before voting Nov. 7

JT Thorpe
Arizona mail-in ballots come with “I voted” stickers, often designed differently than the ones handed out on Election Day.

Every year, on the first Tuesday of November, an election takes place. This year, the election is Nov. 7.

Local elections are sometimes overlooked due to the lack of popularity or coverage of candidates or propositions. However, these elections are often the most critical elections to vote in, as they have a more direct impact on voters.

The elections that University of Arizona students will face includes the selection of the next Mayor of Tucson as well as decisions on Propostion 413 and Proposition 496.

Mayor of Tucson

The mayoral election is one of two Tucson elections this year in which a voter will elect a candidate to office.

Four candidates are running for mayor:

  • Regina Romero (D), Incumbent
  • Janet Wittenbraker (R)
  • Edward Ackerley (I)
  • Arthur Kerschen (L)

Romero is at the end of her first term as mayor and is running for re-election. She was the first Latina elected to the city council in 2007.

According to her campaign website, Romero hopes to create a “climate-resilient Tucson,” work on creating affordable housing, invest in parks and other forms of infrastructure and support small businesses.

Wittenbraker is a former business manager with a law degree from Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law.

According to a survey conducted by Ballotpedia, her main policy goals are to increase the salaries of law enforcement, reduce fentanyl in Tucson and make Tucson a safer and cleaner city.

Ackerley is a Tucson native who attended both the UA and Northern Arizona University. Ackerley earned an “Ed.D. and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Northern Arizona University, and a B.F.A. in Radio & Television from the University of Arizona,” according to his campaign site.

According to his website, the key issues Ackerley would focus on as Mayor include public safety, road repairs and establishing “homeless transition centers” to address homeless camps around the city.

Kerschen is a UA graduate and a Navy Reserve veteran. He is also a research specialist at the UA and Pima Community College.

“I am most concerned with free-market principles and with making Tucson a free city, granting each of us our rights, as the U.S. Constitution ensures us,” Kerschen said during a candidate forum conducted by the League of Women Voters of Greater Tucson.

Each candidate has their vision of how to make Tucson a better city for all of the people living in it. It is crucial to understand each candidate’s point of view before casting a ballot.

City Council: Wards 1, 2 and 4

In the city council election, members of a specific ward choose a city council member to elect to represent said ward.

Before heading down to the polling place or mailing back a ballot, it is important for voters to know which ward they live in, as not all wards will be holding elections.

The two candidates competing to represent Ward 1 are:

Lane Santa Cruz (D), Incumbent

Victoria Lem (R)

Santa Cruz has been a member of the city council since 2019. 

According to Ballotpedia, Santa Cruz plans to invest more time creating accessible housing. They also want to develop fare-free transportation, as well as create “speed mitigation” to keep streets safer for communities. She also makes an effort to support small businesses and supports labor unions.

Lem is currently running for her first elected position but has prior experience as a recruiter.

According to Ballotpedia, Lem wants to allocate more funding to law enforcement to fight the fentanyl and overdose crisis, including creating more rehabilitation centers in the city. She also wants to work on improving roads and creating more long-term projects to keep the roads of Tucson safe and up to date. Lastly, she mentions allocating more funds to programs like JTED to build a more vital workforce in Tucson.

The candidates competing to represent Ward 2 are:

Paul Cunningham (D)

Ernie Shack (R)

Pendleton Spicer (L)

Cunningham has been on the city council since 2010. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history from the UA and a graduate degree in social work from ASU.

According to Ballotpedia, Cunningham hopes to improve Tucson and make it a city worth living in. He also hopes to address the unsheltered and homeless problem facing Tucson by listening to diverse voices across the city to get the most expert advice possible. He also promises to improve the parks and water supply within Ward 2.

Shack is a former member of the U.S. Army and earned a bachelor’s degree from Rochester Institute of Technology.

According to Ballotpedia, Shack’s main policy issues are shaped around rebuilding roads, fighting crime and fixing the homeless situation. In answers to the candidate survey, he stated that the current city council has not done enough to fight crime, and they do not give law enforcement enough authority, and he hopes to change that.

Spicer is a former musician, veterinary technician, child welfare worker and psychotherapist. She earned a bachelor’s degree from the UA and a graduate degree from John F. Kennedy University. 

According to her campaign website, she also helped with creating the Old Fort Lowell Live-At-Home program.

According to Ballotpedia, she believes that personal freedoms should come before everything else. She believes in a limited government, and she also wants to push for overall unity within the Tucson community, allowing people to work out their differences between one another. 

The candidates competing to represent Ward 4 are:

Nikki Lee (D), Incumbent

Ross Kaplowitch (R)

Lee has been on the city council since 2019. According to her campaign website, she is a U.S. Air Force Veteran and a STEM professional.

According to her campaign website, Lee is fighting for livable wages and safe working conditions, as well as an increase in technical training and trade schools. She also hopes to modernize Tucson infrastructure and roads and work to retain first responders around the city. 

Kaplowitch is a former correctional officer and truck driver, and according to his campaign website, he and a friend started an organization called “Tucson Back the Blue Line” in 2020.

According to his campaign website, he is running with a focus on public safety and working on addressing the barriers people face when getting mental health help. He also wants to help veterans within the Tucson community. Kaplowitch mentioned coming up with innovative ways to solve the homelessness situation in Tucson.

Proposition 413

Proposition 413 is a decision on whether or not to increase the city council members’ salary.

As described by Ballotpedia, “A ‘yes’ vote supports increasing the mayor’s salary from $42,000 per year to 1.25 times the salary set for members of the Pima County Board of Supervisors and increasing the salaries of council members from $24,000 per year to equal the salary set for members of the Pima County Board of Supervisors.”

A “no” vote would have the opposite result, keeping the mayor and council members’ salaries at the same level as they are now.

According to Ready Set Vote Tucson, the last time the pay for either group was increased was 24 years ago. Tucson has some of the lowest pay in the state for elected officials, which some believe discourages many people from running for office.

On the contrary, the salary jump would be a substantial one, and the wording of the proposition does not clearly state where the funding is coming from.

Proposition 496

Proposition 496 asks voters to decide whether or not the Tucson Unified School District should receive $480 million in funding.

The money would be used to renovate and build new school buildings, equip buildings with technology and other equipment, obtain leased school lots, provide utilities and equipment necessary for buildings, and pay for the architectural, engineering and design elements of construction.

The main argument for Proposition 496 stems from the lack of resources in TUSD and the rundown condition of the schools, according to Ready Set Vote Tucson.

The main counter-argument comes from the increased property taxes that would need to be implemented, affecting homeowners and businesses within the district’s borders.

Tucson residents and UA students have much to decide on November 7. And remember, receiving the “I Voted” sticker from the voting booth makes it all worthwhile.

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