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The Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board endorses Nikki Lee to represent the east side Ward 4 on the Tucson City Council, a seat long held by Shirley Scott, who is retiring.
An Air Force veteran, aerospace industry IT manager and Democrat, Lee faces a seasoned challenger in Republican Michael Hicks, a former TUSD board member and manager of Intelligent Transportation Systems for the city’s transportation department. Green Party candidate Cara Bissell is also on the ballot.
Lee’s experience being stationed at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and finding a job that fit her tech and entrepreneurial background after she left the Air Force gives her insight needed on the City Council. “I am one of those people who struggled to find work, but didn’t want to move,” she told the Star’s Editorial Board.
Hicks touts his long history in Tucson as an employee, growing up with former mayor Lew Murphy and his time as Tucson Unified Governing Board member as reasons to vote for him, but Lee’s forward vision on economic development is more compelling. She focuses on ways the city can streamline processes for small businesses and entrepreneurs looking to grow.
City council members represent wards, but are elected by all city voters. Lee’s approach suits the job of City Council member. In her work as a project manager, “You have influence but not authority, and you have to build relationships.”
“I’ve spent a lot of time building relationships with current city councilmembers,” she said in an interview with the Star’s Editorial Board. “I think there is a role to play as a team and a role to play as a leader.”
A background in IT systems only makes Lee a more attractive candidate, especially in an age where increasing dependence on technology is important to everyday life, and because her background makes her more likely to attract and tech companies interested in Tucson.
Ward 4 and Tucson are changing. With a new mayor and at least two new council members, that change should reflect the dynamic, entrepreneurial and creative nature of Tucsonans. Lee would be a welcome addition to that equation.