Steller: Candidates for AZ governor have low TQ

2014-01-10T00:00:00Z 2014-01-10T08:33:03Z Steller: Candidates for AZ governor have low TQTim Steller Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Nuggets of Tucson space rock:

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith’s announcement that he will run for governor has boosted the campaign’s TQ.

What’s TQ? Tucson Quotient — the number of years the candidates have lived in Tucson or Southern Arizona.

There may be no Tucson resident in the race, but one candidate lives elsewhere in Southern Arizona, and three lived here as children, including Smith.

Overall, though, the candidates have a pretty low TQ.

When Smith was born in 1956, his father, George, was superintendent of the Flowing Wells School District. Scott Smith remained in Tucson until his father got the job as superintendent of Mesa’s public schools in 1967, when Scott was 11. Obviously, that’s where he settled.

So that’s 11 years of TQ.

Smith wasn’t the only candidate born here — Secretary of State Ken Bennett also is a Tucson native. After just three years, his family moved northwest to Prescott. Still, the Old Pueblo left an impression on him, spokesman Matt Roberts told me: Bennett’s first memory is of snow falling in Tucson.

Fred Duval, the only announced Democrat in the race, also accumulated some key TQ in childhood. At about age 10, in 1964, Duval’s family moved here when his father, Merlin, became the first dean of the new University of Arizona College of Medicine.

Duval spent his formative years here, graduating from Tucson High in 1972. He’s also married to Tucsonan Jennifer Hecker Duval, but he doesn’t get extra credit for that — just a solid eight years of TQ.

Ironically, the candidate who can arguably claim the highest TQ is the one who has arrived in Arizona most recently. Former state Sen. Al Melvin has never lived in Tucson proper, but he moved to SaddleBrooke in 2002.

I know — SaddleBrooke is in the far reaches of the Tucson metro area, but it is in Southern Arizona, so I’m giving him 12 years of TQ.

Total TQ for all the candidates: 34 years.*

The asterisk is because one candidate, Christine Jones, may have earned negative TQ for her comments in October about Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s alleged humanitarianism toward illegal border crossers.

“You know, this guy goes down into the desert and puts out water so people won’t die coming across the Rio Grande,” she said.

Yes, the Rio Grande — that river over in New Mexico and Texas.

Street Fair squabble

At first glance, the conflict over this spring’s Fourth Avenue Street Fair seems like another example of the city of Tucson squishing small business.

It isn’t. But it is one of those run-of-the-mill problems we should be resolving in favor of business to be a city that makes it easier for people to make a buck.

The problem, as my colleague Darren DaRonco reported Thursday, is that the need to test streetcars forced the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association to realign the Street Fair in order to give the streetcars access to their nearby maintenance facility. The association came up with a plan last year for all future street fairs that involves setting up vendor booths west of Fourth Avenue on Seventh Street.

The city allowed the merchants to stick with the old alignment for the December Street Fair, but a new problem cropped up for the spring fair: a flood-control project that will shut down the corner of Third Avenue and Eighth Street.

The upshot, said John Sedwick, executive director of the merchants association: About $50,000 lost due to 70 fewer vendors, as well as fewer food booths and a lost major-sponsor space. It’s not huge money, but it affects the association’s ability to keep up the street.

“I’ve reduced my revenue by that amount, but my overhead expenses have not changed,” Sedwick said. “I still have to hire the same amount of police, the same amount of fire, the same amount of EMTs, have the same number of portable toilets.”

The city was looking into whether it can stop testing for those four days, but it is under pressure to get the streetcar system up and running by the time University of Arizona students return in August, said Andrew Quigley, who is co-director of the streetcar program. Right now, the planned startup is in July. The county and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may be able to keep the corner they’re working on open during the weekend.

Quigley was unhappy with the predicament but had not lost his sense of humor.

“The city is being thrown under the streetcar over this,” he quipped.

Joking aside, even if the Merchants Association has already been given one reprieve, the benefit of the doubt should go to accommodating the Street Fair.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at tsteller@azstarnet.com or 807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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