Steve Farley

Former state senator

Former state Sen. Steve Farley is joining the race to be Tucson’s next mayor.

Farley formally announced on Thursday, saying the chance to represent Tucson was impossible to resist once he learned that Mayor Jonathan Rothschild was not going to run for a third term.

“When Jonathan said he wasn’t going to run, I was disappointed like most of us,” Farley said. “But it seemed like a great opportunity to take up the mantle of leadership in the city that I love.”

The Tucson Democrat is no stranger to local politics, serving in the Legislature for the last 12 years and being active in neighborhood politics as well as transportation issues for more than two decades.

While Farley ran unsuccessfully for Arizona governor last year, he may be best known for his leading role in the establishment of the Regional Transportation Authority in 2006, which is responsible for many major road projects and the Tucson Modern Streetcar.

Farley credits Rothschild for leaving the city in good financial shape after the Great Recession and said significant issues are facing Tucson in the coming years.

“Two of the biggest ones are climate change and, frankly, protecting Tucson from Donald Trump,” Farley said. “There are a lot of communities that feel like they are under attack here, but they need to know I am going to have their back.”

He said he believes that Tucson can address many issues locally, but concedes that the city will likely still face resistance from the Legislature.

Last year, for example, the state stepped in and forced the city to stop its gun-destruction program, arguing it violated Arizona law.

Farley, the owner of Stephen Farley Design, is also well-known for tile murals he created at the Broadway underpass near downtown, gathering historic photos from the community and turning them into tiles.

Farley isn’t alone in his race for the Democratic nomination for mayor.

Tucson City Councilwoman Regina Romero announced Wednesday she would run for Tucson’s top political office, and Councilman Paul Durham has indicated that he is considering running for mayor as well.

At this time, no Republican has announced a candidacy for mayor.

Contact reporter Joe Ferguson at or 573-4197. On Twitter: @JoeFerguson


Joe has been with the Star for six years. He covers politics as well as the city of Tucson and other municipalities in Southern Arizona. He graduated from the UA and previously worked for the Arizona Daily Sun.