Pima Community College  •  Tucson, Arizona  •
October 30 - November 5, 2003
Volume 48    Issue 7


Opposing Viewpoints

Local mayoral election. Who’s the best candidate?

John-Thomas Long
Aztec Press
Justyn Dillingham
Aztec Press

Incumbent Bob Walkup pushes progress Tom Volgy brings reason to debate

"Mayor Walkup is a reform-minded leader who does the right thing. He gets it done without partisan politics."
-Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)

Walkup is definitely a leader who strives to do the right thing for Tucson, an optimistic, straightforward, jolly man who realizes the great potential of this great city.

For the past four years, Mayor Walkup has tackled a lot of the important issues that have been troubling Tucson, issues like the water shortage, employment, transportation, and the environment.

After Walkup was elected, he oversaw the end of the water crisis hampering the Tucson area. The release of dependency on ground water, and the transition to CAP water, has allowed ground water levels to rise 20 feet in some areas.

Since 1999, thousands of new jobs have been created in the city, and workers earnings have gone up 14 percent. Walkup and the city council allotted $14 million in job training grants and set up a new job training school on the south side. These solutions have eliminated a lot of unemployment in the city, and they will encourage people from all around the country to move here to work.

Transportation-wise, major roads like Campbell Avenue have been widened to allow for smooth traffic flow during the day. The suicide lane on Broadway Boulevard was eliminated, removing the hazardous confusion and chaos that occurred during morning and evening rush hours. Aviation Highway’s speed limit was increased from 45 to 55 m.p.h during Walkup’s term. This speed increase has allowed for a better flow of traffic between Davis-Monthan and Downtown. Currently, Golf Links Road is being improved to relieve congestion.

Walkup’s environmental policies have seen the tripling of recycling rates, which save millions of dollars and limit the amount of trash that piles up at the city dump.

Many have noticed the face lift that has been on going around the Downtown and I-10 areas, such as the construction of the rattlesnake underpass next to the downtown end of Aviation Highway, the current construction of a new interchange connecting I-10 and I-19, along with all the artistic work added to the interstates themselves.

All these accomplishments have improved the stature and appeal of Tucson. Tourists now will not only be attracted by the warmer winter temperatures, but by the sheer artistic and cultural beauty of the city itself. The improvements made will promote growth, and allow for a stronger and more flexible city and state economy.

One of the new big issues this election is transportation. Even though transportation has been improving over the last four years, it is apparent that it is not improving fast enough to accommodate for the growth of the city. Some feel that the proposed light rail line and increased bus service is the answer. It may be, but the current plan is very costly, and in the long run, will not solve the transportation problems the city is facing. Walkup believes that for light rail to work, it would have to be a regional solution.

The mayor does not put a lot of stock into what other cities do for transportation, because most cities have plans that work for their region, based on size, location, and feasibility. Plus, some cities have the revenue for expensive solutions, and some don’t.

Education is another issue that needs to be dealt with in the communities. The mayor seeks better preschool and childcare, stronger internship links between businesses and schools, effective community college programs that lead to jobs, and new business opportunities through technology transfer at the University of Arizona. A healthy economy rides on a good education system, and it is important to invest effort into building a system that works. Walkup intends to do that.

Mayor Bob Walkup is a good, honest, hard worker who strives to do the right thing for Tucson. Walkup has been doing what’s right for the last four years, and will continue to do what’s right till the day he dies.

On Nov. 4, you can vote for Mayor Bob Walkup, the one who will fight to do the best for the city, or you can vote for Tom Volgy, the one who hopes what he wants to do is right for the city.

It’s easier to choose between Republican Mayor Bob Walkup and Democratic challenger Tom Volgy if you simply ignore what both sides say and look at the record.

The differences may not be obvious at first--both look like affable, practical-minded moderates--but one of them is a guy with a history of waffling on the issues who’s done very little to alleviate Tucson’s transportation problem and nothing to improve its health care or education in his four years as mayor. We have no reason to believe his record will improve if we give him a four year extension.

Volgy’s platform emphasizes education, the environment, creating affordable health care programs for Tucson, and improving its public transportation. The last in particular has come under heavy fire from supporters of Walkup, who claim that Volgy - who supports the light-rail proposal and Propositions 200 and 201 - is a reckless spender.

However, Walkup himself threw his support behind a similar but inferior proposal last year, wasting $750,000 of taxpayer money to promote it before voters overwhelmingly shot it down.

Now he’s saying that Tucson isn’t ready for light rail, and that the only solution is to set up a regional authority to deal with transportation issues. This isn’t a solution at all; it’s merely a convenient way to delay finding one.

While Walkup wants more federal and state funds to pay for transportation improvements, Volgy thinks Tucson can take care of its own problems. "If you all believe that the federal government will underwrite a huge chunk of our transportation needs, I have a bridge I want to sell you someplace in New York," he said last month.

Even to the untrained political eye, Volgy’s record is far more impressive than Walkup’s. A graduate of Oakland University with a doctorate from the University of Minnesota, Volgy has taught political science at the University of Arizona since 1972, when he moved to Tucson. He is the author of several books on international politics and policy-making, and he serves on the board of the International Studies Association.

Walkup, on the other hand, had no real political experience prior to his 1999 election. Before that, he was best known as an executive at Hughes Aircraft, where his major accomplishment, according to Jim Nintzel in the Tucson Weekly, was "improving the company’s local image, which was tarnished by the discovery that lax environmental standards had contaminated southside water wells with the industrial solvent TCE." Talk about your impressive credentials.

Volgy has been involved with Tucson politics since 1977, when he ran for Ward 6, where he served for a decade. He served as mayor of Tucson from 1987 to 1991, following which he took a long hiatus from the world of politics.

Volgy decided to get back into the game, he has said, because he was distressed at the lack of direction he saw in Tucson politics under the leadership of Walkup. He’s a busy man who has no reason to run for office again apart from his desire - and willingness - to give up his well-earned free time to make Tucson a better place.

Volgy has said he will continue as a part-time lecturer at the UA if elected. Walkup was quick to criticize him, dubbing himself "a full-time mayor," as if any politician with any interests outside his work was someone to be suspicious of. As Volgy told the Tucson Citizen in reply, "If you permanently give up all your jobs, then this becomes your job and you become a little too desperate to hold onto it."

Walkup has gone back on his word time and time again. Before he was elected, he said he was against banning smoking in restaurants (he hasn’t done a thing about it), that he was against raising the sales tax to pay for improving public transportation (he claims he doesn’t remember saying it), that he was against reducing garbage pickup to once a week (he voted for it this year). As for his dubious long-promised plan to merge city and county government, he hasn’t done a thing about it yet. Enough already.

Tom Volgy, on the other hand, is an experienced politician with a strong platform and a clear vision for Tucson’s future. He’s the man who deserves your vote on Nov. 4.