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Paul Durham to temporarily step back from Tucson City Council duties

City Council primary

Paul Durham gets a congratulatory hug at a gathering at his home during an election party as the results came back in his favor in the Democratic primary race for city council Ward 3, Tuesday, August 29, 2017, Tucson, Ariz.

Council Member Paul Durham will take a temporary step back from his duties on the Tucson City Council after announcing that his husband is undergoing treatment for terminal cancer.

Durham, who has represented Ward 3 for the past three years, also recently sustained multiple rib fractures and is still recovering. Ward 3 is made up of many neighborhoods on the city’s northwest side, such as Flowing Wells, Amphi, Campus Farm and Balboa Heights.

The council member sent this statement in his weekly Ward 3 newsletter Friday:

“I write to inform you that I will step back from my duties on a temporary basis starting immediately. I do so in order to recover from a recent injury and to ensure that I can properly support my husband, who is undergoing aggressive treatment for terminal cancer. This has been a challenging time for both of us. Thank you for the support that you have offered to our family. In the meantime, my office will continue to be available to each of you and Ward 3 constituents.”

Durham did not specify how long he would be on leave, but the Tucson code of ordinances states that a vacancy is deemed to exist if an elected official absents himself for a continuous 30 days without the consent of the council or is incapacitated and unable to perform his duties for two or more consecutive months.

Since he was elected in 2017, Durham has been a strong advocate for environmental issues and has emphasized the value of community. He previously served as chief of staff to former Council Member Nina Trasoff and has volunteered with several local groups, including the Tucson-Pima County Metropolitan Energy Commission, where he has worked to promote solar energy.

Philippe, Durham’s husband, is also the founder of Tucson Community Supported Agriculture, which supports local organic farming by bringing farm products directly to consumers.

Most recently, Durham helped lead the charge to declare a climate emergency in Tucson and begin the development of a 10-year climate action plan. He worked alongside Tucson Mayor Regina Romero to garner community support for the plan that will lead Tucson to carbon neutrality by 2030.

“For the last three years, I’ve witnessed Council Member Durham’s dedication to serving the residents of Ward 3 and the City of Tucson,” Mayor Romero said Friday. “I wish him a speedy recovery and we understand his decision to support his husband during this difficult time.”

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Jasmine joined the Star in 2019. With a master’s degree in journalism, Jasmine served in a variety of leadership roles, including The Daily Wildcat's editor-in-chief. She was also named Outstanding Newsperson of the Year by the UA School of Journalism.

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