The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Hello, my name is Curt and I am the incoming Opinion editor.
You might recognize my name from news stories I’ve written over the past six years at the Star, most recently as the border reporter.
I’ve covered everything from space balloons and Powerball fever to legislative races, the border wall, asylum-seeking families, drug-smuggling rings and, of course, potholes.
Now, as the Opinion editor, I’ll handle letters to the editor, guest columns, op-eds and political cartoons. I’ll also write opinion columns and work with the Editorial Board.
I’ll always be a reporter at heart, but I’m excited to make the leap from news to opinion writing.
My goal is to write opinions that are fact-based, fair and useful to Star readers. At the same time, I want to share other people’s opinions that fit that description, regardless of the political perspective or topic.
I’m taking the reins from the very capable Sarah Garrecht Gassen, who viewed the opinion pages as a place to celebrate successes and find solutions to problems. I’d like to continue that work.
Some of my columns will be light-hearted. Life is too short to take everything seriously all the time, you know? Southern Arizona is a beautiful place filled with interesting people. I’d like to highlight that now and then.
But the importance of an opinion journalist at a newspaper, and the reason the press is mentioned in the First Amendment, is to call out powerful people when they abuse their power.
As a reporter, I’ve seen a variety of politicians up close. Some are sincere, others are disingenuous. Some work hard to learn the details of complicated issues, others try to skate by on ideology.
I’ll do my best to help you distinguish between the best ones, who try to lift our spirits and treat us with dignity and honesty, and the worst ones, who lie to us and treat us with arrogance.
With letters to the editor, I’m looking forward to getting to know Star readers better and helping you get to know your neighbors better.
In that spirit, I should tell you a little about myself.
I grew up in Indiana and Ohio before bouncing around for a decade or so, including stints in Philadelphia and Chicago.
I’ve always been curious about the world. I lived in Argentina as an exchange student for a year in high school and then in Brazil during college.
I came to Tucson in 2006 and studied journalism and Latin American Studies at the University of Arizona. I’ve lived in Tucson or Nogales ever since.
I’ve always liked talking to people. Looking back at the variety of jobs I’ve had over the past few decades, I’m thankful each one put me in the position to meet new people and see the world from a different perspective.
When I was about 12 years old, the job of mowing the lawn for the nuns down the street passed from my older brothers to me. The nuns would talk kindly with me as I wolfed down the Klondike bar and off-brand cola they gave me as payment.
At a municipal golf course in Indiana, people from all walks of life whiled away afternoons talking with me, the gawky teenager cleaning carts, serving hot dogs and Polish sausages, running the register and scrubbing toilets.
During the years I spent working at cineplexes, video stores and drive-in movie theaters, I talked with countless people looking for a fun escape from their daily lives, trying to explore an art form, or just in need of something to do on a date.
Driving tools and building materials around Philadelphia and New Jersey showed me how starkly different neighborhoods could be, even if they were separated by a single street. It also helped me appreciate the slower pace of life in Arizona and much of the West.
As a bartender in Tucson, I had thousands of conversations with random people. If you want to hear someone’s life story or a passionate explanation of how the world works, try being one of the only sober people in a bar as everyone around you gets tipsy.
Conversations became far more intimate when I started reporting.
Rather than talking to people about a frustrating round of golf or what kind of mood they were in as they chose a movie, I could talk to them about their hopes and fears or what they thought of a particular politician or problem.
Now, as Opinion editor, I look forward to having even more interesting conversations and hearing from a wider array of people.
If you feel strongly about a local or national issue, write down your thoughts and send them via the tucson.com/opinion submission page.
I’d like to hear from you.
Curt Prendergast is the incoming Star’s Opinion editor. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org