South Tucson’s city hall may no longer bear the name “Daniel W. Eckstrom Municipal Complex,” a name it has borne since the 1980s.
The City Council plans to discuss whether to strike the Eckstrom name at a meeting tonight.
Dan Eckstrom has been a Democratic political heavyweight in Pima County for decades.
His lunchtime gatherings of largely Hispanic politicos at South Tucson’s Rigo’s restaurant are legendary.
Eckstrom was elected to the South Tucson City Council in 1971 at the age of 23, went on to serve as mayor for 15 years, then was appointed to the Pima County Board of Supervisors in 1988 and was elected and re-elected four times.
More recently, his daughter Jennifer Eckstrom served on the council. First elected in 1995 at age 18, she resigned as mayor a year ago.
Councilman Ildefonso Green, who put forward the renaming discussion item, said the topic arose when a constituent asked him whether it was ethical or legal to have a building named after a living person.
Through his research, Green determined that cities are not permitted to name buildings, and he has recommended that the city abandon the name.
“If it wasn’t done legally and we find out about it, we have to correct it,” Green said.
Dan Eckstrom himself thinks the renaming effort may be a product of political bitterness.
He handily beat current South Tucson City Manager Luis Gonzales in a 1988 primary election for a county supervisor seat, and Gonzales said at the time that Eckstrom represented “the big bucks of special interests and developers.”
Gonzales has recently criticized the past administration for a lack of financial controls, and the council majority elected last year ran on a platform of transparency with an anti-Eckstrom tinge.
“They feel that they’re the new sheriff in town, and they’re going to do what they’re going to do,” Dan Eckstrom said. “It’s not going to injure me.”
Jennifer Eckstrom also thinks the renaming talk is personal. “It’s kind of a kick in the stomach, if you ask me,” she said. “They don’t like my dad, and this is a way of getting back at him.”
The city has other named public buildings, including the John A. Valenzuela Youth Center, but they are named for people who are deceased.
The City Council also plans to discuss its fiscal year 2015 budget Thursday night. South Tucson is facing a $900,000 budget shortfall, and Gonzales said Friday that he plans to make “drastic” recommendations for restructuring city revenues.