The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
It is truly unbelievable to think about the changes that we have undergone over the course of the last few weeks. Almost every aspect of our daily lives has been upended and our world flipped upside down by something that remains invisible. Yet all of us have made deep sacrifices to protect the health of our loved ones and our community. This is what makes me so incredibly proud to serve as your mayor and more importantly, this is why I’m optimistic about the future that lies ahead.
I never imagined that four months into my term as mayor we would be facing the greatest public health crisis our world has seen in a century. I am proud of how our community has responded, taking thoughtful and proactive actions to mitigate the spread and flatten the curve locally.
We have had to make painful decisions, especially as guidance from higher levels of government have lagged. Ordering the closure of many businesses was a punch in the gut for me, and a decision that I hope no mayor will ever have to consider again. It was a difficult but necessary call I had to make. I have a moral obligation to protect the health of our residents.
I’m grateful for my colleagues on the Tucson City Council and city staff as well as members of our community for your feedback as we navigate these uncharted waters together. I also speak daily with our local mayors to build our regional partnership and keep each other informed.
The level of compassion and support Tucsonans continue to show one another is incredible: our health-care workers and first responders that are on the frontlines to keep our community safe; grocery store workers who are working day and night to ensure all of us have food on the table; small business owners and their workers who have sacrificed their income to slow the virus spread; restaurants that are providing food to those most in need including persons experiencing homelessness and nonprofits serving vulnerable populations; our partners at Pima Community College and the University of Arizona who have stepped up to produce personal protective equipment for those on the frontlines; and each and every Tucsonan who is doing their part by staying home as much as possible.
Overnight, our economy took a severe blow, and that’s why we are actively planning immediate steps to jump-start our local economy once it is safe to do so. I have been in constant communication with state officials and our congressional delegation to ensure Tucsonans have our fair share of resources to expedite our recovery.
At our next council meeting, we will be discussing the federal CARES Act and how it will assist our recovery efforts. To supplement federal aid, we will begin laying out a local economic recovery plan, including but not limited to activating small business navigators that will connect small businesses with their needs.
Additionally, I will be forming a Mayor’s Economic Development Advisory Council that will represent a diverse set of stakeholders including small business owners, restaurants, hospitality, tourism, nonprofits, workers, educational institutions and others. I will task them with identifying the steps we must take to reignite our local economy while empowering each of us with economic opportunity.
I believe that it is essential to approach our recovery efforts with an eye to equity, focusing on those most impacted and in need of assistance. Our community will only have fully recovered when we are all uplifted — from the small business owner struggling to cover rent and utilities, to the bartender living paycheck to paycheck. We’re in this together, and we will come out of this, together.
In addition, I am very excited to announce the We Are One/ Somos Uno Resiliency Fund in partnership with the Community Foundation of Southern Arizona that will support nonprofits, workers, families and small businesses that have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. This fund will be a key part of our overarching recovery strategy.
Our community’s response shows our collective commitment to each other. In times of crisis, Tucsonans band together as one city, one community. Our resiliency, compassion, and strength reinforces what I’ve always known to be true about Tucsonans; we will not only get through this, we WILL come out even stronger than before.
We are one. Somos Uno.
Learn more at cfsaz.org/weareone
Regina Romero is the mayor of Tucson and previously represented Ward 1 on the Tucson City Council.
Concerned about COVID-19?
Sign up now to get the most recent coronavirus headlines and other important local and national news sent to your email inbox daily.