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UA prof and mayoral candidate has the vision to push Tucson to greatness

Ryan Scalise
By Ryan Scalise
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Friday October 10, 2003

The mayoral elections are right around the corner, in just four short weeks. One of the leading candidates in the race, UA political science professor and Democrat Tom Volgy, is a candidate with the right vision for the city of Tucson and mind you, this sentiment is coming from a registered Republican.

Tom Volgy received his doctorate in political science from the University of Minnesota. Dr. Volgy has been a Tucson citizen for 32 years and is well attuned to the needs of the city. He became a professor of political science at the UA, specializing in all facets of government and international affairs. He is also the executive director of the International Studies Association, which is a worldwide forum for international affairs scholars and policy-makers. Additionally, he has written four books and over 35 articles relating to his specialty.

Aside from academia, Dr. Volgy has been heavily involved in local Tucson government. He has served as a city council member and on numerous committees. Dr. Volgy has also been a representative for the U.S. government and the U.N. in several capacities, including that of monitoring democratic elections in several Eastern European countries. His experience qualifies him as a strong candidate.

Dr. Volgy has been heavily involved in local Tucson government ... his expertise qualifies him as a strong candidate.

Dr. Volgy was formerly the mayor of Tucson from 1987-1991, a period of substantial growth for the community. He told me in an interview that he is running for mayor in 2003 because he is concerned that the big problems in Tucson are not being addressed. He went further to say that, "If you don't take a creative approach to the problems we have, then they will only get worse great cities turn problems into creative solutions."

I asked Dr. Volgy about his broader view of the relationship between city and state governments, an important question for a mayoral candidate. He sees the role of a city government as one and the same as that of the state government in creating sound urban policy. His view is that, "the city should be working closely with the state, but the reality is that Tucson is underrepresented because most of the Arizona state Legislature comes from Maricopa County and they are not concerned with Tucson's urban progress we must take action to look after our own affairs and be creative in doing so."

During Dr. Volgy's last administration, he created what he called the "Urban Coalition," which facilitated an open and mutually beneficial relationship with citizens of Maricopa and Pima counties. He has already taken steps toward reemphasizing this plan by coordinating it with the mayor of Phoenix.

Tom Volgy is running on a platform of economic development and better job markets; transportation, healthcare and quality of life; and public education. Tom's vision for economic development is especially worth noting.

Two of the largest economic problems facing Tucson are low wages and the lack of new and better jobs skilled workers are leaving the Tucson community to find work elsewhere. Tucson has a comparative advantage in high-tech and info-tech jobs and is producing skilled workers in these fields; the UA is a leading research institution that is a great resource. Dr. Volgy's focus is on business recruitment, retention and growth.

He is also a believer in what he calls "Tucson First," which is to say that Tucson businesses should look to the community for jobs instead of outsourcing or

subcontracting, thus increasing jobs for the community and boosting the economy. One of the main areas Dr. Volgy will work on is increasing business by making it more accessible to international markets.

Tom has the international experience that Tucson needs to push its commerce into world markets, making it more competitive. For instance, Dr. Volgy helped put a Bookmans Bookstore in Kazakhstan, a country in Eastern Europe. He wants to make the infrastructure available to small businesses, like Bookmans, to start expanding to the markets of developing nations. This infrastructure will include development partnerships with other cities around the world, and even broaden involvement with Mexico.

Expanding into international markets is a key ingredient for economic development for Tucson; but we must first be able to identify the needs that foreign markets demand and then disseminate that information to small businesses.

Dr. Volgy will also seek to boost local business and talent by reinventing an intern program for UA and Pima students. They will gain real-world experience to coincide with their studies. Intern opportunities will exist for all fields of study, which will help to cultivate local talent and leadership for the future of Tucson's well being.

To those of you who are registered voters, I recommend taking a look at Tom Volgy's campaign Web site before going to the polls to see what other areas he will work on to improve the interests of this community.

Ryan Scalise is a political science senior. He can be reached at

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