December 7, 2015

Mayor Rothschild calls for focus on fundamentals in inaugural address

Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild was sworn in for his second term in office today by his father, attorney Lowell Rothschild. After a brief swearing-in ceremony and council meeting, the mayor and council members attended an inaugural luncheon at the Tucson Convention Center, where Mayor Rothschild outlined priorities for his second term in office. Text of the mayor’s prepared remarks is below.

Swearing in 2015

Being sworn in by his father, attorney Lowell Rothschild, while the mayor’s wife, Karen, looks on, December 2015

Inaugural remarks, December 7, 2015

Good afternoon. Thank you for coming. Congratulations to my colleagues on the council, and thank you for your help and support over the last four years.

I’d like to begin by thanking my parents, my wife, my family. Your love and support are everything.

I want to thank my campaign staff: chairperson Dr. Laura Elias de la Torre, treasurer Rebecca Wicker, manager Pat Burns, consultant Adam Kinsey, and everyone who gave money or time. Even without an opponent on the ballot, there’s still a lot of work involved in campaigning. Thank you.

And I want to thank my office staff, and city staff – particularly some of the people I work most closely with: City Manager Mike Ortega, City Attorney Mike Rankin, and City Clerk Roger Randolph – for your professionalism and dedication.

Sometimes I’m asked, “Why would anyone run for office?” Usually that happens after the person has experienced call to the audience – the live equivalent of an online comment section.

Everyone has their own answer to that question. For me, I love Tucson. I grew up here. I decided to run because, when I looked around, I saw things I didn’t like, things I wanted to help fix.

I had heard the complaints about Tucson. Once I became mayor, I learned that, while some complaints had merit, many did not – and some were based on information that was decades old.

My approach is: where change is needed, work to make change happen.

And we have made change happen – in our roads, our downtown, our relations with Mexico, and many other areas.

For years – and it’s still going on today – the state took our road repair money and used it to balance its own budget. So, we took matters into our own hands and passed Prop. 409, the hundred-million-dollar streets bond. Our major streets are looking better and better, as work gets done ahead of schedule and under budget.

In the past, other Arizona cities used incentives to revitalize their downtown. Now, Tucson is doing the same, with great results. We have a downtown grocery, market-rate housing and mixed-use development. We’ve selected a developer for the Ronstadt Transit Center and, in just a few weeks, construction is set to begin at the downtown AC Hotel by Marriott – one of three pending downtown- and university-area hotels.

And finally, after years of hateful rhetoric coming from some Arizona politicians, Tucson led the way in repairing relations with our largest trading partner. I’ve taken delegations to Mexico on trade missions and hosted visiting delegations here in Tucson. Next month, I’ll host my second Borderlands Trade Conference – this time, focused on the Arizona-Sonora manufacturing supply chain.

This city has made visible progress in many areas over the past four years – far more than just these three examples. Taken together, these accomplishments have helped renew both civic pride and trust in city government.

I like to say, “We’ve gone after the low-hanging fruit.” Now, we have to get out the ladder, and move higher up the tree. In other words, things won’t be as easy going forward. In fact, while the city itself is doing much better, over the next several years, city government will face some major challenges.

The simple fact is, we cannot continue to meet existing obligations or maintain service levels without looking at all options for increasing revenue.

Among those options are the financial charter changes we put on hold last year because the county was running its bond issues. That can’t wait any longer. Today – and certainly over the next several years – the city’s need to invest in fundamental infrastructure and basic services far outweighs any list of discretionary projects that might be nice to have in the future. Today, we must focus on the fundamentals of government in providing basic city services.

Over the past four years, the city has done its part – time and again – to show that it can responsibly manage resources and deliver outstanding results. Restoring more than 900 lane miles of city streets, renovating the TCC arena, recharging the millionth acre-foot of CAP water, building the Advanced Oxidation Process water treatment facility, storing Phoenix water in our wellfield, and building the streetcar line – these are large, complex, public works, and city staff have executed them very well.

Tucson may feel like a small town, and I hope it always does, in many respects. But we are a large city – the 32nd largest city in the United States. We are a great city, founded in 1775, a year before the Declaration of Independence.

To be a city where our children want to stay, and can stay, we need to invest in ourselves. In infrastructure that benefits everyone. In essential services, like police and fire, parks, roads, and public transportation, that benefit everyone.

These are choices the council will make, and city voters will make – choices that will have consequences for years to come.

Thank you for helping move Tucson forward over the last four years. Thank you for your support and help over the next four years. It’s an honor to serve as your mayor. Thank you.

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