My parents have always told their six children, education will provide rewards for a lifetime. So true are those words. I am wrapping up my term in the Harvard University, Kennedy School of Government’s Executive Leadership Program for State and Elected Officials. Since the first week of June I have had the opportunity to work and learn from elected officials and administrators from around the world. Because it’s an intensive, time-condensed course, I have lots of homework, reading and term paper writing. It’s like being an undergrad again! When I have a spare moment I upload some of the pictures I’ve taken to document my experiences. You can see them on my Facebook page.
I am proud that I was selected to attend this program, over 600 people applied and only 60 were chosen. I am even more excited that I can bring this knowledge back to my community. It will stay with me as I work with you and my colleagues as we move forward to address our challenges.
I can’t say that I have missed the heat… Cambridge is beautiful and historic, and a sea of green trees and flowers. But it is not home, and doesn't have the familia quality of Tucson. It also doesn't have any lovely Sonoran-style tortillas de harina that are thin as paper , smell of mesquite and are filled with lovely things like frijoles, or carne or just heated with butter.
23 Miles of Mexican Food
Speaking of things that are pure Tucson, at any given point within Ward I, you are no more than just a few minutes from authentic Mexican food. Ward I is home to some outstanding examples of Mexican cuisine. Grande Avenue, St. Mary’s Road, and South 12th Avenue are certainly known locally as destinations for anyone hungering for something satisfying and delicious. Chris DeSimone and Visittucson.org, the Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau website, has mapped the Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food. Visit the site and give your own testimony to your favorite food spot.
I would love to hear about your favorite Ward I place in the Best 23 Miles of Mexican Food. Email me at Ward1@tucsonaz.gov with your favorite.
South 12th Avenue Culinary Corridor
Which leads me to my next thought; you may have noticed some to the recent coverage lately in the media on South 12th Avenue. For the past several years it has been my priority to seek out funding to improve South 12th Avenue. I appreciate South 12th Avenue for all of its assets: small business incubator, culinary corridor, and unique shopping destination. My office has applied for transportation enhancement grants and other funding opportunities to fund needed infrastructure improvements. It is still a work in progress. We have made some small steps. In recent months we had three new bus shelters/concrete pads that were installed along 12th Avenue, made possible through RTA funding. Did you know that South 12th Avenue bus route is the second most utilized in the city? Minor improvements are important for bus riders who commute along this route. It is going to take enormous amounts of community engagement of local merchants and residents to get the funding we need.
I have requested that South 12th Avenue be added as a project to be funded through a future Pima County Bond. The process is lengthy, and Pima County residents would have to approve the bond in an election. The County’s Bond Advisory Committee meets regularly, residents can attend and offer their support for projects during call to the audience, or they may submit letters of support to the Committee. We encourage neighbors who want to see improvements to 12th Avenue to attend an upcoming Bond Advisory Committee meeting. Here is a link to the Committee website http://www.bonds.pima.gov/committeeBAC/index.htm
Immigrant Welcoming City Task Force
Last year, Mayor & Council voted to establish Tucson as an Immigrant Welcoming City. The resolution passed in support of this effort committed the city to an ongoing dialogue around immigrant rights issues.
City staff has been working with a group of citizens and organizations to identify ways to make Tucson more immigrant friendly. Their first goal is to establish an online immigrant resource directory. This directory will consolidate resources and services available to immigrants from all backgrounds in one accessible place, as part of the city of Tucson website.
The next Task Force meeting will be July 15th, at 6:00 p.m. at the Sam Lena Library. If you are interested in volunteering with this group or sharing ideas and resources for consideration, please contact Karla Victoria with the City of Tucson Office of Equal Opportunity Programs, at firstname.lastname@example.org
Tucson’s Modern Streetcar
At this week’s Mayor and Council meeting, we got an update on the progress of Tucson’s Modern Streetcar project.
While the construction process has been a long one, we are in the home stretch! 94% of our track installation is complete, and is expected to conclude next month. 27 out of 33 station stops are in place, and all underground utility work has wrapped. We expect the delivery of vehicles beginning this fall, with one car being delivered monthly until inception. You will see cars cruising through town soon, as drivers are trained and we educate the public on how to safely share the streets. Expect to be “enjoying the ride” on the streetcar through Tucson next summer!
If you haven’t been downtown recently, you are missing out! The transit oriented development occurring in our urban core has been nothing short of remarkable, and demonstrates how public investment can really leverage the private investment needed to help our downtown flourish. There has been over $800 million in investment along the streetcar line to date, and we are seeing more plans cross our desks every day.
Check out this great op-ed about the exciting activity happening downtown, and come on through to check it out!
City Approved Domestic Partnership
On Tuesday, June 18, Mayor and Council approved an amendment to the Tucson Domestic Partnership Ordinance. The amendment will enhance the City’s support for domestic partnerships and civil unions. What this means for our friends and neighbors is that they can record with their domestic partners critical documents like power of attorney, living wills, rights to adoption and other contracts. It was crafted to avoid the issues that have arisen with the City of Bisbee’s ordinance relating to civil unions. It is one step closer to legalizing marriage equality.
University of Arizona Admissions Event at El Pueblo Center
I recently hosted an event with UA President Dr. Ann Weaver Hart and Congressman Raul Grijalva to discuss Latino issues in higher education. The University just extended their admissions deadline for Fall of 2013, and will be hosting an informational event at El Pueblo on June 24th & 25th to discuss admissions processes in English & Spanish. Pima Community College representatives will also be on hand. Please spread the word -- education is power! See attached flyer for more details.
El Dia de San Juan Fiesta
The 16th Annual El Dia de San Juan Fiesta will take place Monday, June 24 from 5-10 p.m. at the Mercado San Agustin, and adjacent lot to the west. For over a century, residents have celebrated the kickoff to our monsoon season and prayed for the sustenance and renewal that the rain brings our desert. The smell of creosote after a summer Chubasco or the way the stormy skies contrast with the green palo verde trees are just a few of the tiny pleasures of the monsoon season. The modern day version of El Dia de San Juan Fiesta features a traditional blessing and procession, food court, arts and crafts, activities for kids, and a full night of entertainment. Bring your lawn chair and get ready to kick up a little dust moving your feet to the beat, with mariachi, Waila music and los charros like you’ve never seen!