Antenori returns with campaign against City Council Democrats
Former state lawmaker Frank Antenori and his frequent political ally Christine Bauserman are serving a little smackdown to the three Democrats seeking re-election to the Tucson City Council.
Antenori and Bauserman are co-chairing Revitalize Tucson, an independent political committee that—so far—has spent $15,200 to purchase 20 billboards around town asking four questions:
• "Who made Tucson the 5th poorest city in the U.S.?"
• "Why are we Arizona's most dangerous city?"
• "Who gets $1.3 billion and won't fix potholes?"
• "Who let a few radicals hold downtown hostage?"
Beneath the question is a suggestion: "Ask Shirley Scott, Paul Cunningham & Regina Romero."
Bauserman said that she and Antenori were "just asking some questions" and was cagey about Revitalize Tucson's next act.
"Right now, we've just got the signs," she said. "That's all we're going to say."
Although both she and Antenori are both fierce Republican partisans (and Antenori has dismissed the residents of Tucson as "hippies" that he didn't want to be associated with), Bauserman said the billboards are "nonpartisan. Potholes are nonpartisan and so is poverty. ... I have a lot of friends who want to know why we have potholes with a $1.3 billion budget."
Ward 2 Councilman Paul Cunningham blasted the effort.
"It's just your standard insult politics that don't reflect anything truthful," Cunningham said. "If they want to do insult politics, what kind of leadership can you expect from them?"
Cunningham, a Democrat in his first reelection campaign who is facing Republican Kelly Lawton, said downtown is booming with restaurants, clubs and activity. "What was once this epic failure in downtown has become a great success," Cunningham said.
Cunningham pointed to the city's recent repaving of 120 miles of Tucson streets such as Speedway, Broadway, Grant, 22nd Street and Valencia. And he pointed to a study released this week by TRIP, a national group that tracks road conditions in major U.S. cities. Two years ago, Tucson was listed as the fifth worst city in terms of failing roads; this year, Tucson wasn't even included in the list to the top 25. The report noted that Tucson had gone from having 53 percent of its roads in failing condition to having 32 percent of its road in failing condition.
"We finished under budget and ahead of schedule on almost every project and we have money left over for more projects," Cunningham said. "I get more complaints about construction now than I do about potholes."
Bauserman remains unimpressed with the work repaving the streets.
"I don't have any comment on that bond," she said. "In general, I think the City Council needs to fix the roads. I'm not running a campaign. I'm just putting up some signs."
Romero, who is facing Republican Bill Hunt as she seeks a third term, called Antenori "our local Donald Trump."
Like Cunningham, Romero said the city was on the right track with its road-repair program and downtown revitalization efforts.
"I know for a fact that the streets are getting repaved," Romero said. "Downtown is thriving and moving forward."
Dash for Dollars
Democrats are outraising Republicans in the City Council races
Given that there's no contested primaries this year, it's not especially urgent that the candidates have a lot of money in the bank right now, but it never hurts to get the fundraising done early.
So far, only Mayor Jonathan Rothschild and Councilman Paul Cunningham have qualified for city matching funds. (Rothschild told the Weekly he wouldn't be tapping public funds without a GOP opponent.)
It's an important milestone for a city campaign because once a candidate qualifies for the program by delivering at least 200 $10 contributions from city residents, every dollar they raise is matched by the taxpayers. The catch: Candidates have to agree to limit their spending. Earlier this week, the City Clerk's Office announced that this year's limit for council candidates is $110,367.
Cunningham had raised about $24,000 as of the end of May, according to his most recent campaign finance report.
Romero had raised more than $43,000, according to her most recent campaign-finance report, but told the Skinny earlier this week that she now has more than $57,000. She is waiting for city auditors to give the OK on matching funds.
"I'm done with fundraising," Romero said. "Now I can more on to what I thrive on, which is actual campaigning."
Ward 4 Councilwoman Shirley Scott has raised about $28,000 by the end of May but has not yet applied for matching funds.
None of the GOP challengers—Margaret Burkholder in Ward 4, Kelly Lawton in Ward 2 and Bill Hunt in Ward 1—have yet applied for matching funds. None of them had raised more than $3,000 by the end of May, when the most recent finance reports were due and the campaigns were just getting off the ground.
Speak Now Or...
Deadline is here to submit ballot arguments
If you want to weigh in on whether Tucson City Council members deserve a pay raise from $2,000 a month to $2,288 a month or whether it's time to change the city charter to give the mayor a spoonful of more power or whether those red-light enforcement cameras should come down, now's the time to turn in your ballot argument.
Written statements—no more than 300 words—must be submitted by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5. For more information, call the City Clerk's Office at 791-4213. Filing an argument will cost you $100.
Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel airs at 8 a.m. Sunday on the CW Tucson, Channel 8 on Cox and Comcast and Channel 58 on satellite and broadcast. This week's show features highlights from the Netroots Nation Phoenix gathering, including Elizabeth Warren's speech and a presidential town hall with Democrat Martin O'Malley, a former Maryland governor.