By Blake Rebling
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
A journalism student asked me the other day, "What do you think accounts for student apathy in regards to the City Council elections?" I listed off the usual reasons; they are uninformed, disinterested or don't feel like their vote will count for anything.
But remembering last year's heated presidential election, I knew there must be some other reason that students are especially disinterested in the City Council elections.
Simply put, many university students and Tucsonans in general don't believe that City Council elections are as important as the presidential ones.
This, however, is far from the truth. While the city election does not have the potential to change America's foreign policy or reform social security, it directly impacts all of those living in Tucson on a more basic, immediate level.
The city streets, the water system, our various emergency responders; all of these municipal services are affected by who is elected to the City Council. Students should be concerned about who is leading their city, especially when the council is deciding how to effectively spend their tax money.
That is exactly what current council members Fred Ronstadt and Kathleen Dunbar have been doing for the last four years: effectively allocating tax dollars. After decades of having Democrats in control, the council has had a slight Republican majority for the past four years, and the results are evident.
One hundred new police officers, 70 new firefighters and emergency medical technicians, and two new fire stations have all been added in the last year.
"Arson is down, burglary is down ... public safety is of paramount importance," Ronstadt said.
"We've been working diligently to get 2.4 officers per thousand people," said Dunbar, in reference to the national average that Tucson has long been below.
Not only are there more emergency responders than there were four years ago, but transportation in the city is also improving.
Ronstadt and Dunbar have led the way in repairing more than 40 miles of roads and sidewalks, added 13 more Van Trans for our seniors and disabled citizens, and helped see that $25 million went to citywide neighborhood improvements.
"Our job is to make sure you can get from point 'A' to point 'B,'" Dunbar said.
Our water system is also better than it was before. Dunbar and Ronstadt have helped expand the supply of clean water through voter-approved water bonds. Many miles of water mains have either been repaired or completely replaced.
Funding for after-school programming has also increased, and as a result, more children are being served than ever before.
Ronstadt and Dunbar have been working hard and continue to deliver strong results for Tucson.
Ronstadt's family has been in Tucson for five generations, and he previously has worked locally as both a high school teacher and a paramedic, which he did while putting himself through school at the UA. He now represents Ward 6, in which the UA is located.
"I am an advocate for the City of Tucson," he states proudly, and he puts in 50 to 60 hours a week as a council member doing it.
Dunbar is also a full-time council member for the city she has resided in for 20 years. She knows Tucson in and out and has been described by local journalists as a "constituent service champion." Simply put, Kathleen Dunbar knows how to get things done for this city.
The opponents cry that Dunbar and Ronstadt should have supported development impact fees, but they both stick to their belief that they made the right decision opposing some aspects of the bill.
Steve Leal, a Democrat on the council who now supports Dunbar and Ronstadt's opponents, in fact voted against impact fees like Ronstadt and Dunbar, even though the opponents act as if it was only the Republicans who voted against it. Stated euphemistically: baloney.
Past this, there really aren't many issues for this election for the simple reason that Ronstadt and Dunbar have been doing their jobs.
"I have followed through on things that I said I am going to do," Ronstadt said.
So, when you go vote on Nov. 8, remember the pair who has been delivering results and care deeply for the City of Tucson. As Ronstadt says, "Are we going to continue on the right track or fall back to the way we were?"
Blake Rebling is a political science sophomore. If you would like to be featured in "Writing in the margins," please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.