Republican Ron Asta asked voters last month if he should stay in the mayor’s race after his campaign got off to a rocky start when he failed to acknowledge a fatal accident and ongoing driving issues.
And while the development consultant said he received 100 negative responses, and 70 positive ones, he’s decided to stay in the race anyway.
“I was pretty rocked by the spanking I got from the negative comments,” he acknowledged, “but at some point, you look at yourself and say, ‘Do I have any value?’”
He said he consulted family and friends and prayed about whether to stay in the race, and ultimately, decided to stay in, saying “it didn’t seem like me or like Tucson” to let the negative people guide his actions.
Asta said Tucson deserves a debate on the important issues, noting the city needs to focus on developing jobs, balancing the budget and improving streets and public safety.
“Personally, I publically aired my mistakes and tragedies and can now concentrate on the challenges we face in my campaign,” he said.
Asta said he did have communication via email with the family of Jennifer Reeves, the 18-year-old high school student who was killed in a downtown accident in 1994 after Asta ran a stop sign. He declined to characterize the conversations, saying he wanted it to remain private.
Asta enclosed one anonymous statement from the positive grouping, from a supporter saying an accident can happen to anyone.
“Don’t let the media and negative politicians rule your life,” the note continues.
Asta, who has been ticketed 13 times since 1992, said there was a positive for him. “I have found freedom in driving,” he said, adding he has learned to leave his cell phone in his brief case, has learned to look for the speed limit and has learned how his car feels when he’s going 35 miles per hour. “The reason it’s freedom is I don’t have to worry about putting anybody in danger or worry about being stopped,” he said.
He acknowledged a recent photo radar ticket for speeding that came in early March was indeed his, after speculating earlier it could have been his son, but said he plans to challenge it.
Democratic Party chairman Jeff Rogers said he was “shocked” Asta decided to stay in, but said he’s looking forward to watching his primary race. Republican Shaun McClusky is also in the race, with the deadline to file June 1.
Rogers said the commercial Asta did asking if he should stay in the race sounded a wrong note when Asta noted the victim wasn’t wearing her seatbelt.
“It shows an absolute failure to take responsibility for one’s actions,” Rogers said.
Asta, though, hopes he’s putting the controversy behind him.
“I have a lot to say and now I can start saying it.”