Republican Tanner Bell will attempt to unseat Democratic Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson, who is seeking in her fifth term in District 3.
Bell, a 28-year-old former University of Arizona football player, said he's making his first run for public office because he's disappointed with the lack of good jobs, the high rates of poverty and the poor conditions of roads and infrastructure in Pima County.
"The brain drain at the university is atrocious, and it absolutely has to stop," said Bell, who is an academic adviser at the UA. "Our roads are falling apart. You can tell there hasn't been an emphasis and the priority is not towards taking care of what matters most."
Bell grew up in a Republican family near the Pacific Ocean in Castroville, Calif. He came to Tucson in 2002 to join the UA football team. He played offensive tackle for the Wildcats in 2002, 2003 and 2005. Today, he is a youth football coach and helped out on the staff of Tucson High last year.
Working with children has opened his eyes to the problem of poverty in Pima County, he said.
"It saddens me knowing that possibly some of the kids I have coached have gone home at night not knowing if they were even going to have a meal or not," Bell said.
After graduation from the UA, Bell worked in the financial services industry with RBC Wealth Management's Tucson branch. He went on to serve as the executive director of a local think tank called the Arizona Policy Institute, which sued the city of Tucson on behalf of a small-business owner in a suit that claimed below-market leases at downtown's Historic Train Depot violated the gift clause of the Arizona Constitution.
A Pima County Superior Court judge threw out a lawsuit, saying the institute did not have legal standing because it was not injured by the leases. The suit was designed to level the playing field in town, which it accomplished, Bell said.
"It shined a light and let the city of Tucson know we're here, and we're watching, Bell said.
Bell is no longer with the institute, but it still exists with a board of directors. His position was not a paid position, but rather a volunteer post. In addition to being an academic adviser at the UA, Bell also serves on several local nonprofit boards, he said.
Bell said he's become a desert rat in his decade here, and wants to make his home in Pima County's District 3, which covers most of the western part of the county.
"The Pacific Ocean has nothing on the Sonoran Desert," Bell said. "West Pima County is where I want to be and that's where I want to try to help out and change."
Tanner Bell Bio
• Party: Republican
• Age: 28
• Employer and position: Academic adviser, University of Arizona.
• Education: Bachelor's degree in regional development, University of Arizona.
• Political experience: None
• Top priority: Getting back to the basics by improving roads, creating more good jobs, and getting people out of poverty.
Contact reporter Brady McCombs at 573-4213 or firstname.lastname@example.org