Local Opinion: Homelessness and Ward 1 Election

Re: the June 25 article “Campaign contributions become hot topic in Tucson City Council race.”

Council Member Santa Cruz offers solutions to homelessness, not “Spin.”

Tucson can’t afford politicians obsessed with “optics.” The June 25 article regarding the Ward 1 City Council democratic primary race reveals that Council Member Lane Santa Cruz’s opponent grasps at anything serving his image and campaign, betraying the serious needs of our community. Council Member Kozachik admits in the article that the contributions issue comes down to “optics”. Not substance; no wrong-doing on the part of Council Member Santa Cruz. Just optics. Empty spin.

Worse still is when the Ward 1 Challenger Ortega throws out empty spin he knows will grab voters’ passions instead of moving us toward real solutions. He criticizes Council Member Santa Cruz for a development that, thanks to her work alongside the community, now offers affordable housing money and more open space than the existing zoning would have created. The developers could have scattered over 100 high-priced units across the land; but instead it will now fund affordable housing and be clustered to reduce the loss of open space. Ortega pretends that project developers would have given even more if he were in charge—good optics. Empty spin.

He then offers as a solution to homelessness hot button slogans like “rent control”. I’m a proponent of rent control so it even resonates with me, until the truth of the matter is made clear. Rent control is banned in Arizona by state law; action belongs at the state legislature and may require years of expensive lawsuits. Yet Ortega puts it out there in a City Council election as if he could get it done—good optics. Empty spin.

In the meantime homelessness here and across the entire nation keeps growing. People on the streets suffer unbearably; community fear, stress and damage increase; and honest, hard-working people like Council Member Santa Cruz keep taking steady action:

She negotiates as much affordable housing into any and every development as is possible

She led in changing city rules to allow more casitas/accessory dwellings, homeowners and family or other community members in need

She got the city to establish a housing development arm that can quickly acquire old hotels and other properties as affordable housing

She and her staff have helped to get hotel and other affordable housing projects completed.

When it comes to the national crisis of homelessness, many of us in the community feel anger and despair. The easiest thing a politician can do is also the most destructive — cheap talk and whipping up divisions for political gain. We need public servants who focus on facts, roll up their sleeves to take action, and join with the entire community to make true and lasting progress. We need Council Member Lane Santa Cruz.

Susan Yeich, PhD. served a faculty member at Prescott College and is the author of “The Politics of Ending Homelessness” (University Press of America, 1994). She has been a Ward 1 and Mecedora Neighborhood residen

Become a Member

Join a community of Arizonans committed to electing pro-choice, Democratic women to school boards, city councils, county boards, the state legislature, and state-wide office.