In 2013, Living Streets Alliance rolled out our first ever Candidate Questionnaire on active transportation issues. Since then, LSA has led the charge in advocating for a thriving Tucson by creating great streets for everyone, cultivating, educating and championing leaders and decision-makers in the process.
Big changes are on the horizon for Tucson City Council and City Hall with the Fall 2019 elections. Tucsonans will be voting on three Ward seats and a new Mayor. Below are the responses to LSA’s five-question survey from the Democratic candidates for Mayor. The candidates are listed in alphabetical order by last name. Spanish translation provided by a professional Spanish translator. Independent candidate Ed Ackerley declined to return responses to the survey.
#1. What is your transportation and mobility vision for Tucson? If elected, what steps would you take to make that vision a reality, and how would you fund it? Please be specific.
Did not respond.
My vision is for Tucson to be a thriving 21st century city that is rooted in its culture and heritage. We can’t become a thriving modern city if our transportation and mobilty model is stuck in the last century. There is so much we can and should do. This is a key priority for me and I am the only candidate with an Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility Master Plan published on my web site at randiformayor.com.
A key component to ensuring a safe, walkable, multi-modal city is to provide a path and means to create mixed use, multi-story sustainable neighborhoods where goods and services are nearby with full access for all ages to participate. All of the great, pedestrian oriented, cities of the world have responsible density that supports walking, biking and mass transit with food shopping, services, clinics, schools; all within walking distance. Without proper density within the core and corridors of Tucson, we will never have the walkable and sustainable city so many of us desire. Paris has over 55,000 people per square mile and maintains a wonderful walkable, pedestrian environment that attracted 40 million visitors in 2017. Tucson’s population is at 2,341 people per square mile and its estimated that over 30% of our city is asphalt. We can do better, but it requires implementing sustainable principles of higher densities and mixed use while offering alternatives to the car and its heavy burden on our environment and way of life. The image below is of our downtown from the 30’s along Congress Boulevard when downtown was a thriving, mixed use environment where people lived, worked, shopped and convened in a dense environment before the onslaught of cars, starting in the 40’s, spread a grid of asphalt and low density across our city. We need to re-energize our city and follow the historical pattern of density in the core that used to make up our city in the past. We must plan for a sustainable future that embraces smart growth planning to build a better city for people and not just cars.
As a businesswoman, with 20 years of working with my team to design, entitle and build smart growth infill projects, I am uniquely qualified to usher in and navigate the necessary means to activate appropriate mixed-use projects in our core and corridors. At our Trinity Mixed Use project, we are currently building the phase 1 office building where the office users (the ground floor will be the El Rio/TMC joint venture primary care clinic, Health on University) use the parking on site during the day, the Trinity Presbyterian church next door parks there on Sundays and retail users will use the parking during the evening hours. We also have electric car charging stations on site and plentiful bike parking in addition to being adjacent to the Modern Street Car. Phase Two of the project at 4th Avenue and 4th Street will be 58 multi-generational housing units with an indoor bike barn for 40 bicycles along with 7,000 square feet of retail along 4th avenue. Smart Growth strategies require thinking out of the box and I am prepared to engage my experience and knowledge to enable responsible, mixed use projects that will further our efforts towards a more walkable, bike-able city.
I also “walk the walk” and have lived, with my family, in one of our successful re-purposing projects, the Ice House Lofts, for the last 15 years. We converted a 1923 Ice and Cold Storage Factory and Warehouse into 51 lofts and redefined what is possible with responsible density in Tucson long before other downtown projects were in the planning stages. I walk to work to our re-purposed 990 offices across the street from the Ice House Lofts where we converted a 1978 auto repair shop into state of the art, net-zero, multi-tenant office space complete with rain water harvesting tanks and a lush, native desert garden space with organic garden beds. I drive an electric car that is 100% solar powered with energy from our solar array at our office and I bike to my meetings in and around downtown. I have accomplished this by working with a talented team and now, with this learning curve behind me, I will provide this approach city wide in creating a 21st century city that embraces a clean energy future, car-free transit, and a walkable, bike-able city for all ages.
Some of my approaches to creating a better walkable, bike-able, and less car-dependent city are as follows:
- Use Smart City technology to improve infrastructure, and manage assets and resources efficiently.
- Incorporate Adaptive Signalization of traffic signals to alleviate congestion through technology in lieu ofstreet expansion. This will be highly effective for the vast majority of our major thoroughfares.
- Our current bus system barely meets the needs of those who need to use it. We must create a public transportation system people will choose to use starting with creating consistent and reliable service.
- Expand the Modern Streetcar route and pair with bus rapid transit routes. We need to prioritize expansion south to airport because we are losing economic opportunity by not connecting our airport to the center of town, like all other 21st century cities. We can also expand the streetcar further north and east into other parts of the city, along with adding bus rapid transit so it’s easier to go from one part of the city to another. We need to create these plans now so that we are first in line and shovel ready when federal infrastructure funds become available, as they have been in the past.
- Work to reauthorize the RTA in 2026 and look to see if we can fund some of the Complete Streets needs through the RTA.
- Support Complete Streets initiative, taking back our neighborhood streets for bike riders and pedestrians
- Migrate our bus and city vehicle fleet to electric. The city is in the process of testing one bus to getperformance metrics during our extreme climate time of year. I will advocate to halt any further purchases of fossil fuel vehicles and migrate all of our city and bus fleet to electric. If we want to move Tucson forward we can’t continue to invest in yesterday’s technology.
- Work with TEP, the City of Tucson, the University of Arizona and private business to install electric car infrastructure throughout Tucson.
- Long term start planning high speed rail, certainly Tucson to Phoenix, but ultimately Sonora through the Sun Corridor to Flagstaff. This will be a game changer and will finally leverage our best competitive business advantage, which is our proximity to Mexico.
Some of these plans require no additional funding but will be implemented in our normal course of business, some will rely on federal funding as indicated, and some will require additional funding through the RTA and other sources.
My political activism was born from a single PowerPoint slide shown at a citizen advisory group in 1999 of which I was a member. We were studying the transportation future of the 5th-6th Street corridor, and the City was clearly angling for a widening of this crosstown arterial that passes through historic neighborhoods, seven public schools, and the UofA. The title of the slide was “Obstacles to Throughput”. The number-one “obstacle” was “Pedestrians”.
I asked my fellow members if that was the city we wanted to live in, where pedestrians were considered obstacles instead of citizens, and streets were designed strictly for cars. A few of us founded a group called Tucsonans for Sensible Transportation then and there, and we have engaged deeply in advocacy for two decades, gathering 18,000 signatures to place on the ballot a multimodal transportation plan in 2003 that would have provided sustainable funding for light rail, the downtown streetcar, increased bus and BRT service, bikeways, sidewalks, and neighborhood street maintenance. We then successfully advocated for a much greater portion of the RTA to be spent for bike, ped, bus, and the Modern Streetcar, winning in 2006, and helping to transform downtown Tucson into a truly thriving walkable neighborhood.
I would like to explore the creation of a Regional Public Transit Authority with an elected board and a dedicated funding source in order to end the yearly battles over funding in the city budget, and enable a renewed focus on transit planning principles, not politics, in improving our system.
I completely support that every street built in Tucson should be a complete street — in fact the recommendation reached by that 1999-2001 5th-6th Street group was a complete-streets model before the term was in widespread use. I love the steps laid out in Jeff Speck’s book Walkable City Rules. I attended college with Jeff and will bring him to Tucson to talk about future steps.
I want to extend the success of our streetcar to all areas of the city, starting with the Campbell- Kino corridor from Tucson Mall/River Road to the airport, and an extension from South Tucson on South 4th Ave to Broadway where it would turn right and extend as far as we can build it, connecting all UA campuses, and creating more TOD and pedestrian friendly urban centers on the Southside and Eastside for a carbon-friendly 21st century city. This can be built using private local funds along with local public partnerships for dramatically less cost than using federal funding, given that landowners and developers along the route would more than recoup their investment from the increase in economic activity along the route.
I will seek to find partners like Virgin Rail to build high-speed passenger rail not just from Tucson to Phoenix, but also from Guaymas-Tucson-Phoenix-Vegas, another great opportunity for a public-private partnership that offers us a better way to travel than driving alone.
I will take our sidewalk surveys off the shelf and put them to work as roadmaps for how we invest in making our pedestrian circulation system healthy again. I walked Speedway from city limit to city limit in one day and found 16.5 miles of obstacles to people traveling on foot, from no sidewalk at all leading to a busy bus stop, to 3-foot sidewalks with busy street traffic on one side, a retaining wall on the other, and a fire hydrant right in the middle. Imagine confronting that barrier in a wheelchair. These problem areas need to be prioritized and fixed. Our streets are for everyone, whether or not we drive. That should be the basis of our transportation planning.
My vision for transportation and mobility for Tucson includes safe streets that cater to all modes of transportation and include cyclists, pedestrians, people with disabilities and motorists in their planning and design. We need to be planning roads for the future, not catering to a 20th century mentality. We can accomplish this by investing in a mobility master plan that takes inspiration from the Complete Streets policy – which I led the passage of – and includes the following elements:
- Continuing to invest in road improvements that fix our roads and make them safe for everyone
- A safe, reliable, affordable and ELECTRIC transit system that includes expanded bus service, streetcar extensions and Bus Rapid Transit.
- Creating bicycle networks in communities that do not have bicycle connectivity.
- Safe pedestrian connections within neighborhoods that connect to schools, parks and transit lines
- Use of Smart Street technology to make our streets more efficient and safer.
- Safe, clean and SHADED bus stops throughout our city. I led on the most recent efforts to reinvest user fees to rehabilitate and shade more than 100 bus stops in the City of Tucson.
Thanks to the voters of Tucson, we passed Prop 407 which included $67 million for safe bicycle and pedestrian connections. Although this is a good start, we need to continue pushing for the return of our state funds and for new federal grants. As we plan for the next twenty years of the Regional Transportation Authority, we also need to ensure that there is funding for safe, smart and complete streets. As Mayor, I will work with people with disabilities, pedestrian, cyclist, and motorist communities to ensure that this issue is front and center in the RTA and to make sure Tucson gets our share of these regional dollars.
#2. There are neighborhoods in Tucson where as many as 65% of residents don’t have access to a car and rely on walking, biking and taking transit. People driving cars, walking and using bicycles to get around are dying on our streets in increasing numbers, and this disproportionately affects the elderly and young people, poor people and people of color. What actions can City Council take to make Tucson safe and accessible for residents who currently walk, bike and take transit as well as accelerate behavior change so that we dramatically reduce the number of single-occupant car trips made everyday?
Did not respond.
The rate of pedestrian and bike deaths each year is both staggering and unacceptable. Our reliance on cars, especially single-occupant car trips, is unsustainable, unsafe and bad for the planet. We need affordable and reliable transportation, that is also safe.
We have to recognize that the high number of single-occupant car trips is not the problem; it is a symptom of the problem that in Tucson we do not have enough density to support the walkable, bikeable lifestyle to which we aspire. People will walk when there are places to eat, work and play within walking distance. They will take public transit to those places when we have a reliable public transportation system that people can choose to use.
We need dramatic change. We are not even close. We need leadership that understands smart growth and has a track record of creating responsible density and walkable/bikeable developments. I am the only candidate with the first-hand experience that understands the complex nature of all the parts that go into creating difficult projects that work on multiple levels.
We need to promote density in the core and along the corridors, and then make sure we provide tree lined sidewalks, safe bike lanes and reliable public transportation. This will not happen overnight, but with my focused leadership, we will make it happen together.
In the short term there are several things we can do to make our streets safer as follows:
- I will champion the Complete Streets policies whereby all future street planning takes into account all users, not just the users of cars.
- Create more HAWK crossings where possbile.
- Employ phosphorescent asphalt as used in Europe to illuminate dark crosswalks at night https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/article/glowing-roads-could-light-streets-without-electricity/
- Employ low-cost trompe l’oeil painting strategies on crosswalks to slow down motorists http://digg.com/2017/iceland-3d-crosswalk.
- Collaborate with TPD to fully enforce distracted driving rules and educate the publicWhere HAWK crossings are not possible, employ motion or pressure-activated lighted crossing signs to alert cars to crossing pedestrians.
I was the first legislator in the country to propose a ban on driving while texting in January 2007. This past April we became the 48th state in the country to enact such a ban. It took 13 years of relentless advocacy to get us here, but I have met with too many families of those who were killed by distracted drivers to ever give up. I will continue to push for active enforcement of distracted driving laws in Tucson to reduce deaths on our streets, and to push the education component as Mayor in order to assure that the message gets out to all drivers.
All transportation planning must also take into account the surrounding neighborhoods and pedestrian and biking patterns to assure that there are no potentially deadly conflicts set up between street users of different modes, and existing streets with records of injuries or deaths must be retrofitted to increase safety.
For longer-term positive change, in addition to the steps laid out in Question 1, we can reduce single-occupant car trips by incentivizing sustainable development throughout the city to encourage pedestrian-friendly mixed-use new urban centers to revitalize vacant big-box stores and strip malls, then connecting them with high-capacity transit BRT and Streetcar routes to enable people to get around freely with or without a car. These centers can include affordable housing, small business incubators, childcare centers & schools, restaurants and markets, and parks as we retrofit our mid-20th-century land use patterns to help us thrive in the 21st century, create more jobs, increase access to education, and reduce our carbon emissions.
I have represented many of these areas on the City Council for the past 12 years and have dedicated my professional life to ensuring that we have equitable investment throughout Tucson. Prior to serving on the council, I worked at Pima County in Neighborhood Reinvestment, bringing more than $5 million worth of sidewalk and park improvements, traffic calming, tree planting and other beautification efforts to low income and highly stressed areas of our city.
Having served a diverse Ward on the City Council, I understand that each neighborhood and/or corridor is unique, and consequently requires different approaches to address safety. The needs of Campbell Ave are inherently different than the needs of Houghton Road.
For example, I have long been concerned about pedestrian safety on South 12th Avenue, which continues to be one of Tucson’s most dangerous corridors for pedestrians and cyclists. That’s why four years ago, I secured a HUD grant for corridor planning and successfully advocated for PAG to conduct a Road Safety Assessment. Now that we have the funding, we are working with stakeholders to provide safety while addressing parking issues and investing and beautifying one of our most neglected areas of town. To date, I have been able to direct almost $8 million in transportation improvements that fit the unique needs of 12th Avenue.
There are also existing organizations working on precisely these issues, offering their knowledge, expertise, and advocacy. The next Mayor does not need to reinvent the wheel, but instead should be working with local organizations and identifying what policies have been successful in other cities.
This is precisely what I’ve done on the City Council and will continue to do as Mayor. I have worked on many projects and policies with the Living Streets Alliance, including bringing Cyclovia to the Southside (October 2017) where it will be held again this Fall. Cyclovia provides a fun and safe environment for families to walk and ride their bikes, and more importantly, it encourages people to use alternative modes of transportation for their daily commutes. Most recently, I worked with LSA and many other groups to introduce and pass the Complete Streets policy. I have also worked with Families United Gaining Accessibility (F.U.G.A.) and other stakeholders to secure grant funding for the Big Jump initiative. I am currently working with these groups on the Final Mile, which is the second phase of the project.
Each one of these projects took a unique challenge and we solved it by working with the community to identify problems, discuss solutions and obtain the resources to make it a reality. The $67 million in bicycle and pedestrian connections that we will build over the next 9 years will help immensely but we need to do more. I will fight to ensure that every road project includes a review for safety retrofits and includes community conversations about creative solutions.
#3. When people move about Tucson they cross Wards and often other jurisdictions, without realizing it. How are you going to work across Wards and within the region to ensure that limited resources are distributed equitably, timely and where they will make the most impact? How will you advocate at a regional, state and national level for Tucson’s transportation priorities, especially if they might be different from other jurisdictions?
Did not respond.
I am a convener and collaborator. That is how I have made extraordinary things happen throughout my career. I already have productive and positive relationships with all of the city councilmembers, the City Manager, the County Administrator, many of the County Supervisors, and many of our State Legislators. I have a reputation for being innovative, collaborative, transparent and fair. I will leverage those relationships and that reputation to ensure resources are distributed equitably, timely and where they will make the most impact. I am not a career politican, this is not a stepping stone for me, and I am not concerned about the next election; my goal is to have maximum positive impact and I do not care about getting credit for ideas as long as the good ones are implemented.
My public service record is all about coalition building and collaboration. My advocacy for the RTA resulted in more than a half-billion dollars of investment into our public transit system after decades of utter neglect, as well as new bikeways and pedestrian improvements. I was able to help bring warring parties together after 40 previous years of five previous failed tries in order to pass that plan. I spent 12 years in the Arizona Legislature working across the aisle to achieve goals like expanding healthcare to 400,000 more people and increasing public education funding by more than $415 million statewide this year alone. I will use these collaborative skills and knowledge of the legislative process — along with my relationships on both sides of the aisle with legislators and other federal, state and local leaders — to advocate for Tucson’s needs effectively in all areas, including obtaining needed transportation resources. I am particularly looking forward to working with my dear friend Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, who now sits on the House Appropriations Committee, to bring resources to Tucson. I will assure that these resources are used equitably across the entire city in all wards, because we only rise if we all rise together.
The fight for equity in Tucson’s infrastructure investments has been a hallmark of my 12 years on the Tucson City Council. I have ruffled a lot of feathers and lost a few friends over my demand to address the lack of investment in roads in certain parts of town. Last year, Councilman Fimbres joined me in standing with neighborhood leaders to demand that we look at previous years’ investments as a factor in choosing which neighborhoods received street reconstruction. As a result, some of Tucson’s most un-invested parts of town across the city received more than $8 million in additional funding for neighborhood street repairs. As Mayor, I will continue to make sure that we examine which areas of town have received higher or lower levels of investment in order to ensure equitable funding throughout the City – from Painted Hills Dr to Houghton Rd, and Los Reales to River Rd.
I will also advocate for Tucson to have a bigger seat at the table when it comes to regional planning efforts. When voters are asked to renew the Regional Transportation Authority and its funding in 2026, Tucson must have better representation in that body. Currently, Tucson has 1 of 12 votes on the RTA board despite representing 55% of its constituency. Furthermore, I will continue to advocate for the full return of state transportation funds, including Highway User Revenue Funds (HURF) and Local Transportation Assistance Fund (LTAF).
On the Federal level, I worked with Mayor Walkup, Congressman Grijalva and Congresswoman Giffords to secure the final $63 million necessary to construct the streetcar. I also worked with every member of the Pima Association of Governments to secure $14 million to construct the Cushing Street bridge that brought the streetcar to the Westside.
I have built relationships across Arizona over my 25 years of public service as a Councilmember and employee of both the City of Tucson and Pima County. I have received endorsements from elected leaders at every level of government and different political persuasions because they know me and are comfortable working with me. Elected leaders like US Senator Sinema who serves on the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Congressmen Grijalva and Gallego, a majority of the Pima County Board of Supervisors, all of the Arizona House Democratic leadership, and many other elected officials are supporting our campaign. https://www.votereginaromero.com/endorsements Rather than spending time building these relationships, I will be able to hit the ground running and make sure Tucson’s voice is heard in county, state, and federal funding decisions.
#4. How do you plan to ensure that the Ward Office/Mayor’s Office engages directly with constituents in addressing transportation? What are your ideas for how to get community members involved in transportation decisions that affect their community?
Did not respond.
We must start by having an honest conversataion [sic] about density in the core and along the corridors as it relates to the creation of a walkable, bikeable city, as well as sustainability and protecting our environment. I am not afraid to lead those tough conversations and create a framework for the types of projects we should be seeking and approving, and I look forward to collaborating with every Ward Office to socialize these ideas and move them forward. I will advocate for city-wide meetings and neighborhood association involvement to make informed decisions that use factual metrics and not just anecdotal commentary. I have been advocating for the use of technology to enable broader participation in neighborhood meetings, especially for working parents who may not be able to attend early evening meetings, and will employ the same strategies here to give voice and equal weight to everyone in the community.
I am a huge advocate of transparency, accountability and citizen involvement in government. As I said in Question One, my public service career was spurred by my stint as a member of a transportation citizen advisory group. I wrote 300 Farley Reports — in-depth emails home to my Tucson constituents each week during my 12 years in the Legislature, explaining how the system worked or didn’t work, who did what, and how to get involved. I will bring that spirit into the Mayor’s office where I will actively seek public input in all areas, including transportation. I was a transit activist long before I ever considered being a public servant, and I know how frustrating it is to feel like we are not being heard. That will not happen in my administration.
I am riding a different bus route each week — and using social media to invite folks to ride with me — as part of my campaign so I can hear from the people I meet. I will continue this practice as Mayor in order to get input directly from everyone. I also believe that there should be more opportunities for public input at Mayor and Council meetings during the agenda item being addressed. And I will meet monthly with a Mayor’s Transportation Council made up of a diverse group of interested community members so I can hear the view from the streets.
I have worked with community groups on mobility issues for years – both as a City Councilmember and as a neighborhood reinvestment coordinator with Pima County.
We need to take advantage of new methods of organizing and engagement like social media and community popups without forgetting the value of one on one communication. If we have to go door-to-door in order to engage the community in decisions that affect their daily lives, then that’s what we should be doing.
I will also continue to work through established means like the Transit Task Force, the Bicycle Advisory Committee, Pedestrian Advisory Committee and Complete Streets Coordinating Council as well as with Living Streets Alliance, FUGA, BICAS and other groups. We all share the common goal of making Tucson a safe place to live, walk and ride and must continue to collaborate and share ideas with one another. I believe in community-based leadership, and as Mayor, I will create an atmosphere in all city departments that prioritizes community engagement. Our government is at its best when it engages people from all backgrounds into the decision-making process.
#5. As Tucson continues to develop, access to plentiful parking is a common concern. Yet, research shows parking induces people to drive and leads to congestion. What can City Council do to manage parking resources and policies so they achieve our Plan Tucson vision for a vibrant, thriving, walkable community?
Did not respond.
Our semi-suburban building code caters to car culture. Until we create the appropriate density that allows substantial improvements in car-free transportation along with further developing a public transportation system that Tucsonans can choose to use, we must continue to plan for the automobile. But there are several strategies we can employ to accommodate the cars that are necessary while also incentivizing less automobile usage at the same time.
- Promoting density in the core and along the corridors, and tie this into public transportation. This will reduce the need for car ownership and parking in those areas. And even if some won’t be able to elimiminate their cars, couples or families living in those areas may be able to get by with one car versus two. We must figure out how to reward those who seek a car-free lifestyle and its corresponding positive environmental footprint.
- Promote ride share throughout the city and especially for those who live in urban areas.
- Allocating space in the most crowded areas, like downtown, for cab and ride share pickup and dropoff. Making using these services more convenient to use minimizes the need for additional parking.
- Incentivize mixed-use projects that can share parking areas based on different uses at different ties of the day. Our Trinity project is a great example. A singular parking area services office users during the work day, restaurant users at night, and church goers on Sundays.
- Build parking structures that are part of mixed-use projects and tie it to public transportation hubs, like the modern streetcar and bus routes. This will enable users to park once and use public transportation to get around to multiple activities.
- Use technology to alert people to where parking is available in real time either on the street, parking structures or in lots.
- Provide rideshare technology to employers so that they can easily encourage carpooling.
Much of the solution is laid out in the answers to previous questions. Providing high-quality, high-capacity public transit and building pedestrian- and bike-friendly mixed-use facilities and urban centers throughout the city enables more people to choose to leave their car at home. ParkWise is doing a pretty good job currently balancing differing interests on parking, but there can be more done with creative ideas like offering transit passes to regular downtown commuters through their employers and developing a collaborative program whereby stores give discounts to shoppers who show their transit pass.
The most important step we can take to manage parking in our city is to offer Tucsonans more ways to get to the important places in their lives. There are still too many Tucsonans without access to pedestrian, bicycling or transit alternatives to get to work, school, or elsewhere – especially during nights and weekends. The more transportation alternatives we offer, the better we can encourage Tucsonans outside of the urban core to reduce total car trips in our city.
As Mayor, I will work to ensure that our transit system is affordable, reliable and ELECTRIC. We need to dramatically expand high frequency service in our city and add routes to our Frequent Transit Network (an interconnected grid of 11 bus routes that come at least every 15 minutes). At my direction we are also working to build partnerships with the University of Arizona, private employers, TUSD and residential apartment complexes to build transit ridership in our city.
My colleagues and I on the City Council have created many policies that we need to take better advantage of. I worked hard to pass Tucson’s Infill Incentive District which promotes density in the urban core and encourages Transit Oriented Development, but it’s time to start demanding more from developers. We need to start leveraging the economic incentives that we offer to require developers to give back to the community by providing meaningful public amenities, investing in community services like transit, and/or providing affordable housing.