Star Opinion: We endorse Randi Dorman in Tucson mayoral Dem primary
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Star Opinion: We endorse Randi Dorman in Tucson mayoral Dem primary

From the Star opinion: Endorsements for the City of Tucson's 2019 democratic primary series

The following editorial is the opinion and analysis of the Star’s Editorial Board:

Tucson voters are fortunate in this Democratic primary election: Every candidate brings specific skills, experience and vision to recommend them in the race for mayor. We are impressed with each, for different reasons.

In this primary election, in which voters will choose who will be the Democratic candidate in the Nov. 5 general election, one person possesses the combination we think would best serve Tucson as mayor: Randi Dorman.

The Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board is endorsing only in the Democratic mayoral primary election because there are no Republican candidates running. The primary winner will face Ed Ackerley, running as an independent, in the Nov. 5 general election.

Dorman is facing two political veterans in Ward 1 council member Regina Romero and former state legislator and transportation advocate Steve Farley. She has an uphill battle in name recognition and political machinery, it’s true, but the Star’s Editorial Board evaluates candidates on who is best suited for the mayor’s office and in this measure, Dorman leads.

All three candidates agree on some fundamentals:

  • Tucson should be part of a local coalition that financially supports increasing enrollment to high-quality preschool, and the city should work to improve education funding from the state.
  • Tucson must respond to and prepare for the damaging effects of climate change by transitioning to electric buses and city vehicles, expanding reliance on solar energy and helping residents make their homes and businesses more energy efficient.
  • Small- and medium-sized local business are economic engines that need tending, instead of relying on large employers to relocate to Tucson from out of town.
  • The ballot initiative that would make Tucson a “sanctuary city” is unnecessary and potentially harmful to the immigrants it aims to help.

Dorman is a pragmatic, inclusive and a big-picture thinker who understands the grounded details needed to bring vision to life. Her career in business and work with nonprofit agencies — as chairwoman of the Downtown Tucson Partnership and president of the Museum of Contemporary Art — bolster her ability to see challenges from different points of view, work on difficult problems and find a way forward on issues from reducing homelessness to broadening the arts in Tucson.

She has demonstrated these qualities as a developer on infill projects. She and her husband, architect Rob Paulus, built the Ice House Lofts, which turned an old, empty building on the south edge of downtown into high-end lofts. They are now working on The Trinity mixed-use project on Fourth Avenue. Dorman speaks in detail about how Tucson can use existing tax incentives and federal “opportunity zone” programs to spur businesses and residential renovation and construction beyond downtown, and within existing neighborhoods.

Her practical approach is evident in her Tucson-specific priorities, which include an education campaign to publicize affordable housing programs that already exist, such as the Healthy Homes program that helps homeowners repair and maintain their aging properties, while exploring ways, including property tax caps, to keep residents from being priced out of their neighborhoods by gentrification.

One reservation we have about Dorman is that her life in Tucson has been so focused on downtown, but this is easily remedied with listening and engagement across the city. Deep familiarity with the entirety of Tucson – including residents who never go downtown and who think their neighborhoods have been neglected in favor of building a shiny, hipster-y downtown — is required to serve as mayor.

Dorman doesn’t have a ready-made constituency, as Romero and Farley do from their prior political work, which is an asset for a job that requires a unifying and collaborative leadership on the city council and in public while working with a wide range of people and issues.

A successful mayor is more concerned with accomplishment than taking credit, and it’s a job that requires leadership by aiming high but setting priorities and goals that are within the purview of local government.

The Arizona Daily Star Editorial Board endorses Randi Dorman in the Democratic primary for mayor.

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