Disclosure the writer was paid to canvas for Regina Romero in the primary
Story and photos
By JOE GIDDENS
A 144-year drought was broken on Dec. 2 with Regina Romero’s inauguration as mayor of the city of Tucson.
Romero is Tucson’s first Latina mayor and the first Hispanic to hold the office since Estevan Ochoa’s term ended on May 1, 1876.
“There’s a lot of responsibility because there’s never been a ‘woman mayor’ leading a town like Tucson and I think a lot of people will be observing,” said Romero in Spanish during the Dec. 2 press conference. “I’ve been in politics for over 24 years, so I know it’s difficult for women to be in positions as leaders.”
City council positions also were changed at the ceremony in the Leo Rich Theater before a full house of attendees.
Lane Santa Cruz was sworn in, taking over Romero’s former seat in Ward 1, while Nikki Lee took over the Ward 4 seat from retiring 24-year veteran Shirley Scott. Incumbent City Council member Paul Cunningham started his third term in Ward 2 and also was elected by the city council as the vice mayor succeeding Scott.
“This mayor has really worked hard, and I appreciate it, sir,” Scott said. “So finally, I’d like to … wish the new council really well. I know that you will do a great job for the city. There’s gonna be a bright future and to the new mayor, congratulations.”
Romero said her first act as mayor is to raise the Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui Tribe tribal flags in Tucson City Hall, a policy that Pima Community College recently adopted for its boardroom on Oct. 2.
“Immediately we will start putting together advisory boards on climate action planning, economic development, on infrastructure … and on equity,” Romero said.
Romero’s first item that she added to the council’s agenda was a memorial for Asylum-Seeking Families, which also calls for an end to Homeland Security’s policy of family deportation and returning migrants to Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings and federal funding for Tucson migrant care efforts.
Under the Trump administration policy of Migrant Protection Protocols that also known as “Remain in Mexico” that went into effect on Nov. 22. Individuals who are apprehended in Southern Arizona are diverted to El Paso Texas before being sent into Ciudad Juárez Mexico.
“The MPP will provide a safer and more orderly process that will discourage individuals from attempting illegal entry and making false claims to stay in the U.S., and allow more resources to be dedicated to individuals who legitimately qualify for asylum.” according to a Homeland Security January press release.
“We just had a very disappointing (outcome) for Prop 205 regarding the sanctuary proposition,” Romero said. “And so Councilmember Kozachik and I wanted to make a point that mayor and council will not back down on issues of immigrant rights in this community.”
However, both Romero and Kozachik did not endorse the proposition on the November ballot, citing fears of the loss of state funding for the city.
The resolution was passed unanimously by the city council 7-0 at the new mayor’s first city council meeting the following night.
Kozachik touted local non-profits that have assisted over 35,000 migrants over the last five years and efforts at the Benedictine Monastery by Catholic Community Services on Country Club Rd. While Romero stated that nonprofits in Tucson are capable of providing adequate space for all migrants in the area.
The resolution was forwarded to the Arizona delegation as well as Trump.
Romero’s position is that economic development across the Mexican border is intertwined with immigrant rights. She cited that Mexico is the No. 1 trading partner with the United States and that Tucson’s geographical location and interstate infrastructure allows goods from both coasts makes the city a natural hub of commerce. However, finds other Arizona politicians to be hypocritical;
“We cannot say we want to do business and economic development with Mexico and say that we agree with the with the border wall or say that we agree with militarizing our borders,” she noted.
One of Romero’s goals is to invest equitably across Tucson both with roads and in parks touting her campaign platform to plant 1 million trees by 2030.
“There are areas that are of our city neighborhoods in our city that are hotter than others,” Romero said. “And that’s because there’s lack of trees.”
Romero also cited Pima College’s Thrive in the 05 Oracle revitalization and Park Avenue and Golf Links-Wilmot as areas that require continued investment and as focal points of her drive for regional equity.
The three main issues Tucson voters brought to her during the election was increasing public education funding, water resources in the face of climate change and city roads, according to Romero.
Mental health is another issue for the Romero administration. It’s her position that it’s contributing to Tucson homelessness and that mental health issues have become one of the most common calls for Tucson’s 911 system.
“I am humbled and honored to be your mayor,” Romero said. “Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that the daughter of immigrant farm workers would be here today starting a historic journey with you as your mayor.”