Tucson City Manager Invites Public Voices;
Sustainability and Culture are Priorities
Dateline March 7, Tucson, AZ
by Lindianne Sarno
Mike Hein, City Manager of Tucson, spoke March 6 at a breakfast meeting of the Sun Belt World Trade Association. He has worked for several Southern Arizona local governments including South Tucson, Nogales, Marana, Pima County, and now the City of Tucson. Speaking candidly, he described his job as handling numbers. He reports to seven people, manages a budget of $1.1 billion, and is responsible for 6,500 employees, one-third of whom are due to retire soon.
Last year, Hein said, the City of Tucson started an Office of Conservation and Sustainable Development. This year the City initiates an office of Historical and Cultural Affairs. He said, “This city has a soul. My job is to connect people, artists, and resources.”
When Sustainable Tucson member Tom Greco asked about public particiation in Tucson’s budgeting process, Hein said, “Set me the goals, set me the vision. I’ll develop the process to get to it.”
To meet the challenges Tucson faces over the next 10 years, and to prepare Tucson for our children and grandchildren, Tucson needs citizen involvement, says Hein. A recent Gallup poll of Tucson/Pima citizens revealed only 32% satisfaction with local government, but even more revealing, 22% “don’t know and don’t care.” Hein advised, “Be at the table and be listened to.” At a typical Mayor and City Council meeting, he lamented, about five people respond to the call to the public. At stake are important issues, including how Tucson will grow, how Tucson will handle water, and how Rio Nuevo will develop. Input from the informed, caring sector of the public is urgently needed.
When a member of Sustaiable Tucson asked how the City of Tucson would finance the conversion of Tucson’s infrastructure to solar, Hein replied, “You have your coalition. Unify your coalition. Direct your voice. Find your champions.” He also mentioned the prospective planning going into new building in Tucson and the new role of LEEDS certification (green building standards).
The City of Tucson’s message to Sustainable Tucson is clear: Come talk to us, we need your input, your guidance, and your vision. Sustainability is mainstream. Sustainability is a priority.
Therefore, we plan to post the Mayor and City Council meeting schedule on Sustainable Tucson’s website, www.sustainabletucson.org. The two remaining meetings this month are March 20 and March 27. We urge you to attend these meetings, identify yourself as a member of the Systainable Tucson coalition, and speak up for sustainable design, localization, water harvesting, neighborhood agriculture, food security, community centers, solar energy, and generally reducing Tucson’s global footprint.