City Council Elections and Why You Should Pay Attention

by Greer Warren

The city of Tucson will hold a primary and a general election in 2021 for City Council Wards 3, 5 and 6.  The primary will be on August 3 and the General Election will be on November 2.  Both of these elections will be BY MAIL ONLY.  You will not have to request a mail-in ballot – it will automatically come to you.  

Tucson does its city elections a little differently than most other places (of course it does).  The primary election will be held only in the Wards that have open seats, so that is 3, 5 and 6. But the General election is city-wide and all registered voters in Tucson will have the chance to vote in these three races.

If you don’t know what city Ward you live in, you can check your voter ID card; you also check at recorder.pima.gov and click on Voter Information.

If you have moved recently, ensure that you RE-REGISTER to vote using your updated address,

Why are City Council elections important?  Tucson is governed by the six-member City Council, with a Mayor and a hired City Manager.  This form of government is called a council-manager form of government. The role of the Mayor in Tucson government is fairly weak, compared with the Council.  City Council decides the budget of the City – what money comes in and what funds are expended.  The current budget for the city of Tucson is $1.7 billion.  The website for the City of Tucson is https://www.tucsonaz.gov/

It is important that we elect people to City Council who share our Democratic values and vision of what government should be. Much of what we think of as every day quality of life in our city is controlled by the City Council.  Here are some examples of what our City Council spends our taxpayer money on: Police and fire; streets; parks & rec; air & water quality; trash and recycling; water and sewage services; legal services (prosecutor and public defender); building codes and permits; public transportation; infrastructure projects; Reid Park Zoo.

And what can City Council members do for us?  Your elected City Council member is your connection to the city government.  Their offices are staffed with people who stand ready to help you with your questions and issues.  For example, say someone is dumping refuse in the wash behind your house or in a utility easement near you. Say someone is spraying graffiti on your wall.  Say you need some help in determining if you are allowed to build a guesthouse on your property. Say you have a gigantic pothole on your street.  Your City Ward office is a great first call, to get guidance on which department can best handle your needs and also get some advocacy in dealing with the red tape.

Local government is important to you and to your family.  Our local elected officials stand ready to help you!  So, ensure your voter registration is up to date and be on the look-out for your city election ballots in August and November.  If you have questions about the elections or the candidate, you can contact the Pima County Democratic Party at (520) 326-3716.

Black History in Tucson | Neighborhoods

Black History in Tucson | Neighborhoods

In honor of Black History Month 2021, we pulled together a collection of news stories, books and recordings illustrating the long history of Black families in Tucson. We include a University of Arizona website that documents the stories of Black explorers and settlers all the way up to a directory of current Black-owned businesses in Arizona. It is a rich and varied history, and this just scratches the surface. We welcome contributions to add to the story!

Dunbar: The Neighborhood, the School, and the People, 1940-1965

by Aloma J Barnes


The story of Dunbar, the neighborhood that took its name from the school in its midst, is in many ways the story of America. An almost forgotten 160-acre swatch of land north of the town of Tucson, Arizona, it was inhabited by a hardy mix of Anglos, Mexicans, Yaqui Indians, colored people (as African-Americans were called then), and Chinese. Separated from downtown Tucson by the Southern Pacific Railroad tracks, Dunbar’s northernmost blocks had been the Court Street Cemetery since 1875. Then, in 1912, statehood changed everything. It introduced mandatory school segregation which forced colored children to attend schools built only for them. In response, the Tucson school board converted an undertaker parlor/bakery into such a facility. Within five years the increasing number of students led to the construction of a school at 300 N. 2nd Street, which became the focal point of the neighborhood. The board named it the Paul Laurence Dunbar School after the renowned colored poet. Dunbar: The Neighborhood, the School, and the People, 1940-1965 tells the heartfelt and moving story of that community, and the other neighborhoods that fed into the school, as they all grew and thrived. It is told, as much as possible, using the words of those who lived it. The twenty-five years noted in the title began with the arrivals of Principal Morgan Maxwell, Sr., and Dr. Robert D. Morrow, superintendent of Tucson School District No.1; it spanned three wars, the first school integration, and the march of history. From Good Reads

Sugar Hill Neighborhood

The Sugar Hill neighborhood is a historically black neighborhood, but as Tucson has grown and changed, so has the neighborhood.

Sadie Shaw (recently elected to the TUSD school board) grew up spending time in Sugar Hill, created a collection of oral histories of the neighborhood.

Her uncle would often tell her stories of her family or characters who lived there. “I learned to swim over here at the Mansfield pool. I learned how to whistle here.” she said. When he passed, she missed the stories of this Tucson neighborhood, so, she set out to make them permanent.

“A lot of people don’t know about this community, and they don’t realize it was once a black community and it still is,” Shaw said.

From a 2020 article in the Arizona Daily Star by Megan McNeil

Life less sweet in Sugar Hill | Dorms and renters put a new face on diverse neighborhood

By Tom Beal ARIZONA DAILY STAR | Dec 11, 2005 Updated Mar 15, 2012

“Sugar Hill, less than a mile from the UA campus, was one of the few places in Tucson where black professionals could buy a home between World War II and the passage of civil-rights legislation in the ’60s.”

Life less sweet in Sugar Hill
photo by Benjie Sanders/Arizona Daily Star
Image result for Tucson's Forgotten Generation Biographical Memoirs of the Dunbar Neighborhood in the 40's and 50's Paperback – January 1, 2014

Tucson’s Forgotten Generation Biographical Memoirs of the Dunbar Neighborhood in the 40’s and 50’s
by Rita Elliott

Image result for Tucson's Forgotten Generation Biographical Memoirs of the Dunbar Neighborhood in the 40's and 50's Paperback – January 1, 2014

Didn’t Come From Nothing
An African-American Story of Life
by Tani D. Sanchez. Phd.

Photo of Esteban

In The Steps of Esteban website brings historical documents of Tucson’s African American community online. It includes digital versions of several print documents, including a 1933 University of Arizona masters thesis. Copies of rare and fragile photographs from archival collections add to its visual appeal. The development of In the Steps of Esteban is an on-going project

Mayoral Debate July 18th

Mayoral Debate July 18th

Our next big event is a Tucson city primary Mayoral Debate we are hosting on July 18th. All Candidates are on board and Christopher Connover will be the mediator.
Stay tuned for location and detailed info coming soon!

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