December 3, 2014

Mayor’s Update – December 3, 2014

Mayor’s Update
Tucson, Arizona December 3, 2014
838 Formerly Homeless Veterans Housed
At the 2013 press conference announcing the launch of the initiative, with a formerly homeless veteran.
At the 2013 press conference announcing the launch of the initiative, with a formerly homeless veteran

In June of last year, together with community partners, we launched an initiative to end veteran homelessness in Tucson by December 31, 2015. I’m happy to report, we’ve housed 838 formerly homeless veterans so far! To learn how you can help, visit

Many thanks to our partner agencies, including the City of Tucson housing department, CODAC, COPE, La Frontera, Old Pueblo Community Services, Our Family Services, Pasadera, Pima County’s HMIS program, Primavera and the VA.

Can You Help with the Street Count?

Every year, the Street Count determines what resources our community is able to obtain to serve people experiencing homelessness. Training takes place Monday, January 26th, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. The Street Count takes place Thursday, January 29th, from 6:00 to 11:00 a.m. Contact to volunteer, donate, or for more information.

TPD recruiting at the Veteran Career Fair.
TPD recruiting at the Veteran Career Fair

Veteran Career Fair

In September, my office co-sponsored a Veteran Career Fair at the Sabbar Shrine on S. Tucson Blvd., along with Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, Hero 2 Hired, Tucson Veterans Serving Veterans, DES and Pima One Stop.

Many thanks to the 53 employers who came, representing hundreds of jobs. And congratulations to the 74 veterans and servicemembers who obtained jobs as a result.

Davis-Monthan Wins Volleyball Tournament

On Saturday, November 8th, I was pleased to award the City of Tucson Veterans Day Cup to Davis-Monthan. Teams from Davis-Monthan, the Navy Reserve and Ft. Huachuca competed for the prize, playing volleyball at Tucson’s “beach” downtown at 5th Ave. and Toole.

The tournament was part of the City of Tucson’s first Hats Off to Heroes celebration, a tribute to veterans and military servicemembers. Thanks to event sponsors Raytheon Missile Systems and CAID Industries, as well as to the Downtown Tucson Partnership, Army Band and Color Guard.

Landmark Water Agreement Between Tucson and Phoenix
With Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, being interviewed by Lorraine Rivera of Arizona Public Media.
With Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, being interviewed by Lorraine Rivera of Arizona Public Media

In October, Arizona’s two largest cities announced an agreement that provides greater water security for each while saving both money and water.

Tucson has long been a leader in groundwater recharge in Arizona, taking our full CAP allocation and storing what we don’t use in the ground. This gives us a buffer against prolonged periods of drought.

In Phase One of the pilot program, up to 850 acre-feet of City of Phoenix CAP water would be stored in Tucson’s well field at the SAVSARP facility. SAVSARP stands for Southern Avra Valley Storage and Recovery Project. Tucson’s SAVSARP facility sits atop an ancient streambed, providing ideal conditions for recharging large volumes of water.

After Phase One, the program will be reviewed in preparation for Phase Two. In that phase, SAVSARP would be expanded to store more of Phoenix’s CAP allocation — up to 40,000 acre-feet per year.

In times of shortage, Tucson would give some of our CAP allocation to Phoenix in exchange for water already stored at SAVSARP.

The agreement saves both cities money. Phoenix saves because SAVSARP already has expensive infrastructure in place. Tucson saves because Phoenix would pay to expand SAVSARP, and because pumping from a higher water table uses less energy.

Compared to reservoir storage, groundwater storage saves more water for use later, as far less is lost to evaporation. And a healthy water table — Tucson’s is rising at this point — helps avoid subsidence from overpumping.

Many thanks to city staff in Tucson and Phoenix for this creative approach to providing greater water security for our two cities.

Trade Mission to Hermosillo, Sonora

I had a successful trip to Hermosillo, Sonora last month, visiting with various Chambers of Commerce and business investors. The trip included a tour of the local Ford plant, which sits on a 270-acre site and has more than 3,800 workers and 591 robots — very impressive.

Expanding trade with Mexico remains a high priority, and motor vehicle manufacturing is just one of the industries that create supply chain opportunities on both sides of the border.

Also last month, I was happy to welcome Global Chamber Tucson to the community, an organization focused on growing cross-border trade and investment. They can only help us keep Tucson’s recent recognition as one of the 10 best cities for export assistance. See Global Trade magazine’s 2014 “America’s Best Cities for Global Trade” report. Contact Juan Padres at the City of Tucson’s Economic Initiatives Office, 520-837-4078, to learn more.

Empire Vista Welcomes Annexation into Tucson
Empire Vista Neighborhood, now part of the City of Tucson.
Empire Vista Neighborhood, now part of the City of Tucson

Every time we annex unincorporated areas, we bring back more of our tax dollars to the region, because the state shares revenue based on population living in incorporated areas. Maricopa County is almost entirely incorporated; Pima County, much less so.

Residents of the recently-annexed Empire Vista Neighborhood are pleased with the City of Tucson services they now receive. See the Channel 12 video here. Welcome to Tucson!

10,000th Tree Planted
Second 10,000 Tree Campaign Underway
Planting the 10,000th Tree at Oyama Elementary.
Planting the 10,000th Tree at Oyama Elementary

It felt great to plant our 10,000th tree at Oyama Elementary School this fall, and to start on our next 10,000 trees. Already, we’re at 10,932 trees. Record any you plant (and we encourage planting native, low water use trees) at

Trees help clean the air and they help cool our homes and neighborhoods, reducing energy costs. Some neighborhoods have fewer trees than others, so we especially want to focus efforts in these priority areas.

Class of 1964 Plants Trees at Rincon High

Not long after the Oyama event, I joined the Class of 1964 for a tree planting at Rincon High with current students and alumni. What a great way to honor your alma mater!

If you look at college campuses — and I want our students to be thinking about college — you see trees. Trees and education go together.

Many thanks to Oyama and Rincon’s principals, Rincon High Class of 1964, Trees for Tucson and all its sponsors, including Tucson Electric Power, TRICO, Long Realty, Chapman Honda, and new sponsor Kinder Morgan, and to the many Tucsonans who’ve planted trees as part of the campaign. Let’s keep going!

Energy Conservation Programs at Risk

Unfortunately, the Arizona Corporation Commission is considering two rule changes that would negatively impact our solar industry and energy conservation programs — including programs like Trees for Tucson.

Read my guest column in the Tucson Weekly for details and for information on how to comment on the proposed changes.

Tucson Receives 4-STAR Sustainability Rating
Receiving Tucson's 4-STAR rating from STAR Communities Executive Director Hilari Varnadore, with Tucson's Sustainability Manager Leslie Ethen.
Receiving Tucson’s 4-STAR rating from STAR Communities Executive Director Hilari Varnadore, with Tucson’s Sustainability Manager Leslie Ethen

On behalf of the City of Tucson, I was pleased to accept Tucson’s 4-STAR rating from STAR Communities Executive Director Hilari Varnadore.

STAR Communities rates cities on various measures of sustainability. Read how Tucson did here.

Tucson’s Sustainability Program falls under the Office of Integrated Planning. Congratulations to Sustainability Manager Leslie Ethen and all city staff for the work they do to make this a more livable, resilient community.

Increasing Internships for STEM Students
Addressing business leaders at the University of Arizona.
Addressing business leaders at the University of Arizona

My office worked with the University of Arizona STEM Learning Center to host a STEM Internship Business Forum on Thursday, October 30th, with the goal of getting more internships in STEM fields — part of my Two-Year Plan. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics.

I’m happy to be working on this initiative, which has brought the University of Arizona, Pima Community College, Pima JTED, local high schools and our business community together to meet business, community and educational needs.

In March of last year, I convened a group of stakeholders — people I knew were involved in STEM education and STEM fields — to see what we could do to get more students excited about these subjects, and to get more graduates hired in these fields. The Girl Scouts hosted the meeting. Apparently great minds think alike, as UA President Ann Weaver Hart already had the STEM Learning Center in the works. It launched the following month.

Internships benefit students and businesses. Companies in STEM fields look for graduates with one or two years of industry experience. Internships can bridge that gap. And while there’s risk involved in hiring someone, with internships, there are no surprises. By the end, you know if you want that person on your team.

Many graduates want to stay in Tucson. This is a great place to live. But they need a job, and, often, they can find one in larger cities with employers willing to hire straight out of school. Then, they’re off building careers and lives in other cities and are probably lost to us.

But if they can find a way into the workplace here, we all win. We keep top talent in our community. They get to stay in a city they love.

A Streamlined Process to Obtain Interns

To make it as easy as possible for employers to connect with our educational institutions and obtain interns — at the university, community college, or high school level — one-page sheets were created for each, with contact, process and timeline info. Copies are available at

I applaud President Hart’s focus on experiential learning and I’m very appreciative of the efforts of the UA STEM Learning Center, UA Career Services and various UA STEM departments. I want to encourage employers that already have internship programs to expand them, and those that don’t to create them. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel. The STEM Learning Center is happy to help.

Southern Arizona Construction Career Days

Last month, I had the opportunity to speak at the first Southern Arizona Construction Career Days at the Tucson Rodeo Grounds, which drew more than 700 students from nearly 30 schools. An opportunity for students to experience hands-on demonstrations and exhibits by engineering, mining, and horizontal and vertical construction professionals, some were even offered jobs. When industry sectors step up to help youth transition from school to work, we all benefit. Thanks to the event organizers.

Announcing the Tucson Festival of Films
Mia Schnaible of the Arizona International Film Festival being interviewed by Bud Foster after the press conference.
Mia Schnaible of the Arizona International Film Festival being interviewed by Bud Foster after the press conference

My office worked with Visit Tucson and various local film festivals to create a “best of” festival — the Tucson Festival of Films — which will take place October 15-18, 2015.

I’m very pleased at the cooperation and collaboration among the 8 member film festivals — the Arizona International Film Festival, Arizona Underground Film Festival, Loft Film Fest, Native Eyes Film Showcase, Tucson Cine Mexico, Tucson Film & Music Festival, Tucson International Jewish Film Festival and Tucson Terror Fest.

Large events, like the Gem Show, like the upcoming Tucson Jazz Festival (January 16-28, 2015 — tickets on sale now) and now, like the Tucson Festival of Films, are events Visit Tucson can promote as part of the experience tourists can expect once they get here. We don’t have resources to promote each festival separately, but we can promote them together.

Tourism is one of the Five T’s of Tucson’s economy. And to bring tourists here, they need to know we have more than great weather. They need to know what there is to do here — events and activities that are worth the trip in their own right.

As the promotional literature says, this will be a “Big. Film. Party.” I’m looking forward to it.

Increasing School Attendance Awareness
Kicking off Attendance Awareness Month at Roskruge Bilingual K-8.
Kicking off Attendance Awareness Month at Roskruge Bilingual K-8

September was Attendance Awareness Month, which we kicked off with a press conference at Roskruge Bilingual K-8.

Along with reading at grade level by 3rd grade, attendance is a strong predictor of success in school. Missing just 2 days a month — 18 days a year — can knock students off track, making them less likely to graduate.

My office partnered with Tucson Unified School District, Walgreens and the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona to produce posters encouraging attendance for display in local schools and businesses. Contact my office, 520-791-4201, if your business can display a poster.

Count Me In poster.

Visit for attendance pledges that parents and students fill out, as well as calendars to put on the refrigerator that track attendance and rewards for each month of on-time attendance. Rewards can be as simple as a trip to the park, the movies, or the student’s favorite foods for dinner.

My office was able to place an AmeriCorps VISTA member in TUSD to help with outreach to parents of kindergarteners about the importance of attending school every day. TUSD has a very dedicated staff working on dropout prevention and recovery in the upper grades. This will help them reach families before problems become chronic.

Every time I work with our local school districts, I’m impressed with the energy and enthusiasm they bring to their work. Many thanks to all our partners, including the two largest Chambers of Commerce, the Tucson Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and the Pima County Health Department, for their participation.

Handing out certificates to participants who completed my Summer Reading Challenge.
Handing out certificates to participants who completed my Summer Reading Challenge

Mayor’s Summer Reading Challenge Awards Ceremony

To encourage reading over the summer, which is when children tend to lose reading skills, I launched a Summer Reading Challenge for children and teens up to grade 12. Even babies were eligible, if someone read to them. Participants who completed the challenge were invited to a celebration at the Children’s Museum Tucson, where they received certificates as well as Eegee’s and Reid Park Zoo coupons, and were placed in a drawing to win a Kindle or a $75 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble.

It was great to visit with these young readers and their families — and to enjoy the museum after hours.

Many thanks to our generous sponsors: Bank of Tucson, Bear Essential News, Children’s Museum Tucson, City of Tucson, Community Foundation for Southern Arizona, Crest Insurance, Eegee’s and HSL Properties.

Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Kickoff
Being interviewed by KGUN 9 at the press conference kicking off the enrollment period.
Being interviewed by KGUN 9 at the press conference kicking off the enrollment period

Together with representatives of Pima County, the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona, we kicked off the open enrollment period for the Health Insurance Marketplace.

There are many ways to enroll. Individuals and small businesses (50 full-time employees or less) can enroll online at or, in Spanish,

You can use the call center. For individuals, that number is 1-800-318-2596. For small businesses, that number is 1-800-706-7893.

Or, you can get face-to-face help right here in the community — through the Carondelet Health System, El Rio Community Health Center, the Pima County Health Department, Pima Community Access Program or PCAP, Marana Community Health Center, Northwest Medical Center, St. Elizabeth’s Health Center, Tucson Medical Center, United Community Health Center and United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona. For a list of enrollment events and to schedule an appointment, visit

Open enrollment ends February 15, 2015. It takes some time to consider your options, so don’t put it off.

Finally, if you have time and want to help, you can. Call 520-240-9797 for information on how to volunteer.

Manzo Garden Produce Qualifies for School Lunch
Learning about Manzo's aquaponics from my 5th grade tour guides.
Learning about Manzo’s aquaponics from my 5th grade tour guides

Manzo Elementary is the first school in Pima County to qualify to serve produce grown in their school garden. Students can now eat what they grow as part of a healthy school lunch.

The day before I visited their ecology program, students harvested 38 pounds of produce, which their chef and cafeteria staff made into salads for the students. I had one — it was delicious! Even better, the students thought so, too. Growing vegetables is helping them learn healthy eating habits for life.

Manzo students know a lot about agriculture, and while they’re managing aquaponics, composting and rainwater harvesting, they’re learning math, science and business skills.

Talking to students at Tucson Village Farm.
Talking to students at Tucson Village Farm

Tucson Village Farm

Students from other schools are gaining agricultural experience at Tucson Village Farm, an urban farm built by and for Pima County youth. A program of Pima County Cooperative Extension and the University of Arizona, I was there to recognize their partnership with Tucson Water, which adds water conservation education to the many other programs they have at the farm.

Tucsonans Walk the Turquoise Trail
Walking the historic Turquoise Trail downtown, part of Tucson Moves a Million Miles.
Walking the historic Turquoise Trail downtown, part of Tucson Moves a Million Miles

So far, Tucsonans have walked, run, biked, or otherwise moved 198,459 miles toward our Tucson Moves a Million Miles goal.

On Sunday, October 26th, I held my own walk along the Turquoise Trail downtown. The Tucson Presidio Trust for Historic Preservation created the 2.6 mile walk, and publishes a brochure with information about historic sites along the route. To take the walk yourself, pick up a brochure at the Presidio, 196 N. Court St., 520-837-8119, or at the Tucson Visitors Center, 110 S. Church Ave., Ste. 7199, 1-800-638-8350.

Visit to sign up and count your miles or minutes of exercise toward our citywide goal.

Exercising with students at Sierra 2-8 School on Tucson K-6 Fitness Day.
Exercising with students at Sierra 2-8 School on Tucson K-6 Fitness Day

Tucson K-6 Fitness Day

Friday, November 21st was Tucson K-6 Fitness Day, an initiative we started two years ago to help with youth health and fitness.

To mark the occasion, I visited Sierra 2-8 School, where teacher Kristel Milligan won this year’s Arizona Physical Education Teacher of the Year Award. It was easy to see why, as I struggled to keep up with these energetic students who were clearly enjoying the circuit their teacher set up for them, which included hula hoops, scooter boards and pool noodles.

Walking to Blenman Elementary with students, parents and Living Streets Alliance.
Walking to Blenman Elementary with students, parents and Living Streets Alliance

Walk to School Day

Monday, October 13th was Walktober Walk to School Day in Tucson. I enjoyed a walk to school with Blenman Elementary students, their parents, and staff and volunteers from Living Streets Alliance, which runs the City’s Safe Routes to School program.

Walking is good exercise, and having physical activity as part of the day helps children concentrate in school. I’d love to see some walking school bus or bike train routes get going. Check out these simple but effective ideas at

Mayor Honored by Hispanic Chamber, AZ Dept. of Housing
With Michael Trailor, Director, Arizona Dept. of Housing.
With Michael Trailor, Director, Arizona Dept. of Housing

This fall, I was very kindly honored by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce with their Arizona Public Servant of the Year Award and by the Arizona Department of Housing with a Brian Mickelsen Housing Hero Award.

Congratulations to all the award recipients at both events — the Hispanic Chamber’s Noche de Exitos Gala and the Housing Department’s 11th Annual Arizona Housing Forum. Both organizations fill vital roles, helping business and trade and helping with affordable housing. I was honored to be in your company.

Mayor’s Gallery Exhibition
Work by Tucson artists Dee Bates, Jennifer Day, Lynn Rae Lowe and Peggy Wilmore.
Work by Tucson artists Dee Bates, Jennifer Day, Lynn Rae Lowe and Peggy Wilmore

Since September, visitors to my office have enjoyed art by four Tucson artists — Dee Bates, Jennifer Day, Lynn Rae Lowe and Peggy Wilmore — and so have I and my staff. Tucson has many gifted artists. Look for their work in local galleries.

Visit the Mayor’s website and follow him on Facebook or Twitter.