March 18, 2019

Mayor’s prepared remarks at the New Zealand mosques vigil

Good evening. Thank you for coming. This is what Tucsonans do. We care for, and about, each other. But our care and concern don’t stop at city limits. Today, they extend across an ocean, and two hemispheres.

We have seen too many of these atrocities committed by white supremacist gunmen. In 2012, the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin. In 2014, the Jewish Community Center in Kansas. In 2015, the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina. In 2017, the Grand Mosque of Quebec City in Quebec. In 2018, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pennsylvania. And now, in 2019, two mosques in New Zealand.

50 are dead in this latest attack on peace, on religion, on innocence, on brotherhood, on civilization itself.

Details are just beginning to emerge about the victims. The countries they came from. The lives they lived and the lives they looked forward to living. One survivor attacked the gunman with a credit card machine. Others died trying to protect their family, friends, and neighbors.

Naeem Rashid, age 49, tried to overpower the shooter. He and his son, 22-year-old Talha Naeem, were killed.

Hosni Ara Parvan, age 42, raced from the women’s section to protect her wheelchair-bound husband. She was killed while shielding him with her body. He survived.

Many more heartbreaking stories will be told over the coming days, and weeks, about these people who we will never know—and we will mourn their loss again.

Already, New Zealand’s Prime Minister has assured the world that her nation’s gun laws will change. That’s welcome news, and I look forward to the day when we can say the same.

But more than our gun laws need to change, because guns aren’t all we need to be worried about. Words and images have been weaponized to spread hate, to infect others with the poisonous ideology of white supremacy and hatred of the “other”—whether that “other” is Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, black, immigrant, female, LGBTQ, or any other group.

Hate is a powerful emotion. It can make a person feel powerful. But it can be defeated by societies that are committed to truth, reason, and love—by individuals who are committed to truth, reason, and love.

Let us commit ourselves to this path. And let no provocation, no outrage, no atrocity, take us from this path. Thank you.

March 1, 2019

2019 State of the city—Moving Tucson forward

“I want Tucson to be a city where our children want to stay, and can stay. Want to stay because of the community and its quality of life. Can stay because there are good jobs here. If I’ve helped get us closer to that goal, then I’ve done my part.” Read speech

October 29, 2018

Mayor’s prepared remarks at the Tree of Life Synagogue Candlelight Vigil

The Tree of Life Synagogue has joined a growing fraternity.

The Sikh temple in Wisconsin—where, in 2012, a white supremacist gunman killed 6 and wounded 4.

The Jewish Community Center in Kansas—where, in 2014, a white supremacist gunman killed 3.

The Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in South Carolina—where, in 2015, a white supremacist gunman killed 9 and wounded 3.

The Grand Mosque of Quebec City in Quebec—where, in 2017, a white supremacist gunman killed 6 and wounded 19.

And now, the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pennsylvania—where, in 2018, a white supremacist gunman killed 11 and wounded 6.

Those killed were the faithful.

  • Retired researcher Joyce Fienberg
  • Dentist Dr. Richard Gottfried
  • Mother and widow Rose Mallinger—her daughter is among the wounded
  • Physician Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz – a pioneer in the treatment of AIDS
  • Brothers Cecil and David Rosenthal—sweet men in their 50s who lived together in an adult group home
  • Husband and wife Sylvan and Bernice Simon—killed where they were married more than 60 years ago
  • New grandfather Daniel Stein
  • Retired accountant Melvin Wax
  • Retired realtor Irving Younger

Among the wounded are four police officers—heroes credited with saving lives. They exemplify who we want to be as Americans. Selfless. Brave. Standing up for others—others we don’t even know, simply because they’re human.

These events challenge us as Americans. Bigotry, hate, and violence challenge us as Americans.

My father served in World War II to defeat Nazis and their poisonous ideology. Lately I’ve wondered if our generation is up to the same task.

Hate speech and gun violence are especially insidious. They exploit cherished freedoms. Freedom of speech. Freedom to bear arms. These freedoms are not—and were never intended to be—absolute.

Arizona has a hate crimes statute for felonies and Tucson has a hate crimes ordinance for misdemeanors. Both provide enhanced penalties for crimes motivated by hate, as evidenced by hate speech. There is no sanction for hate speech alone.

It will not be easy to address hate speech and gun violence. It will require leadership—real leadership—at the federal and state level.

It will also require recognition…

  • that Jews, Muslims, Sikhs and other religious minorities are not the enemy
  • that ethnic and racial minorities are not the enemy
  • that refugees and immigrants are not the enemy
  • that women are not the enemy
  • that the press is not the enemy
  • —but that the poisonous ideology of white supremacy is the enemy. You cannot separate the ideology of hate from the violence it gives rise to.

After the assassination of President Kennedy, 55 years ago, President Johnson urged the nation to “turn away from the apostles of bitterness and bigotry … and those who pour venom into our nation’s bloodstream.”

The antidote to that venom is communal action. Reaching out and getting to know those we see as different from us—and working together toward common goals. The antidote is commitment—to living the principles this country was founded on. The antidote is voting, and being informed. The antidote is recognizing the humanity in each other.

We recognize the humanity in all the victims of all these shootings. May their memories be a blessing.

Mayor delivering State of the City Address

March 9, 2018

2018 State of the city—Tucson 20/20 (March 9, 2018)


“Cities operate within constraints, never more so than today. Obstacles can be overcome. But first, you need a clear vision—a shared vision—of where you’re at, and where you want to go.” Read speech

September 1, 2017

Mayor hosts swearing-in of 28 new citizens at City Hall ceremony

Today Mayor Rothschild hosted a naturalization ceremony at City Hall where 28 people from six countries took the Oath of Allegiance, becoming U.S. citizens.

The last step in the difficult and years-long process of becoming a citizen, the naturalization ceremony is a happy time for participants and their families. During and after today’s ceremony, people waved American flags, posed for photos in front of the flag, and spoke with great feeling about their gratitude at being part of this country.

One new citizen specifically thanked Mayor Rothschild, noting that she had had to go through the process twice, and never could have done it without the resources she found through the mayor’s Citizenship Campaign.

Mayor Rothschild welcomed everyone and delivered closing remarks, noting his own family’s arrival from Russia generations ago. His prepared remarks are below.

Welcoming remarks

Good morning, and congratulations!

I am so pleased to welcome you to this naturalization ceremony.

In November of last year, I announced that Tucson was joining 25 other cities and counties as part of Cities for Citizenship, promoting naturalization to eligible permanent residents.

Initially, our partners were Chicanos Por La Causa, Citi, Vantage West Credit Union, Pima Community College, the Pima County Library and USCIS, United States Citizenship and Immigration Services. Since then, more than 30 additional partners have joined in this effort.

You all know, because you’ve been through it, that becoming a naturalized citizen is not an easy process. We’ve tried to make it easier, with information about free English language and citizenship classes, and with loan programs to help with application fees and other expenses. If you have family or friends who want to become U.S. citizens, tell them to visit my website, mayorrothschild.com/citizen, or to contact my office and ask about my citizenship program.

Some of you have been here a long time. Many have not.

Our language, our customs, may be challenging—at times confusing.

I’m concerned, however, that this may be an especially confusing time for new citizens.

For generations, the United States has been known for certain values—American values. These values are being challenged as they have not been challenged for many, many years.

They include the belief in equality of opportunity—the ability to have access to a good education, an education that prepares you to get and keep a good job and prepares you for citizenship—an education that teaches you history and civics and gives you essential life skills, such as reading comprehension and critical thinking.

They include the belief in religious freedom—the freedom to belong to any religion, or not to belong to any religion.

They include the belief in freedom of speech, but they also include the responsibility not to use that freedom to lie. Lies have great potential to destroy—people and organizations, institutions and governments.

They include the belief in civil liberties—equal protection under the law—regardless of gender, race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, age, or any other characteristic.

And they include the belief in the value of helping one another. We like to think of ourselves as independent, but we all depend on each other.

Citizenship in the United States comes with great responsibilities—including the responsibility to live by and protect these American values.

I often find that the people who have made the decision to become a U.S. citizen take the responsibilities that come with citizenship very seriously—and that’s great. In fact, that’s what we need.

You’ve all passed the citizenship test. But to me, every day is its own citizenship test. Every day, we have the opportunity to live up to the best of American values. Every day, we have the opportunity to protect these values when they come under attack. Every day, we have the opportunity to learn about our city, our state, our country. And every year, or two years, or four years, we have the opportunity to vote for the people we want to lead our government and protect these American values that we cherish.

I want to congratulate all of you for taking on the responsibility of becoming U.S. citizens, and I also want to congratulate our community. I believe Tucson is a better and stronger community because we welcome immigrants and refugees—people like you.

So again, congratulations, and thank you. Welcome to Tucson.

Closing remarks

Before, I welcomed you as immigrants and neighbors. Now, I welcome you as citizens.

I know you take this responsibility seriously. I know you’ll cast an informed vote in every election. How do you do that? You talk to other people, including people you disagree with. You read and listen to and watch reputable news organizations—and a variety of reputable news organizations. Not every organization that calls itself a news organization is reputable. But here are some that are: the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the PBS News Hour. Start there. And pay attention to local news, too. Read the newspaper. Watch TV news. Journalists are an essential part of our democracy. They are accountable for what they report, but when they meet the highest standards of their profession, they deserve our respect and our thanks.

Again, I’m delighted to welcome you to citizenship. Congratulations!

March 16, 2017

2017 State of the city—Tucson: a reliable partner (March 16, 2017)

“For a city to grow and prosper takes people and organizations working together in partnership toward common goals.

In my five years as mayor, I’ve been pleased to see our city government work in partnership with businesses and the community. The City of Tucson is a good partner, a reliable partner, as we’ve proven time and time again during my tenure as mayor.” Read speech

Mayor delivers 2016 State of the City Address

March 1, 2016

2016 State of the city—Investing in Tucson (March 1, 2016)

“Pride in our city is why we doubled funding to fight graffiti. It’s why Tucson Clean & Beautiful added to its Adopt-a-Mile and Adopt-a-Park programs. And, it’s why the Tucson Metro Chamber continued its First Impressions Project, improving medians on Tucson Blvd. from the airport to Valencia Blvd.

When you’re proud of something, you take care of it. You invest in it—both time and money. And, you get a return on that investment.” Read speech

Swearing in 2015

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.