Molly McKasson, Ya Done Good.
By Your Friends
DATE: November 27, 1997
SUBJECT: Thanks For The Last Eight Years
AFTER STEPPING down from the City Council on Monday, you'll leave behind a political legacy worth remembering. Your willingness to speak out on issues unpopular with the ruling elite of this community will be the trait many recall you by. You took controversial stands even though it meant you'd be ridiculed by the power establishment and their mouthpieces on the Council.
You were often alone in taking tough positions on the major issues confronting our city. When the water pipes starting breaking in 1993, it was your leadership that focused attention on the problems. The day Governor Symington came to town to twist arms to leave the CAP canal on, you let him have it in not-so-diplomatic terms, while some others on the Council were cowering in fear. With the proposed Water Consumer Protection Act in 1995, you were the only one to have the courage to endorse it.
Your constant mentioning of the problems caused by poverty in Tucson and the City Councilís lack of attention to the issue didnít win you any friends either. The criticism you leveled about spending millions of taxpayer dollars to support the Metropolitan Tucson Convention and Visitors Bureau while wages are so low wasnít appreciated. Neither was your opposition to the new baseball stadium, your initial proposal for scattered sites to feed the homeless, or your complaints about the cityís Economic Development Office.
All of this opposition to the established way of doing things did not come without a price. First it was the ìno-one-give-Molly-a-second-on-any-motionî conspiracy. Then there were the personal attacks and insults thrown by mean-spirited Mayor George Miller. Recently itís been an unwillingness to discuss topics ranging from reducing poverty to annexation promises if you brought them up.
Some of your fellow Council members obviously resent your public popularity. What they donít appreciate is how hard you and your staff worked to achieve it. Sure, your cheerleader image helps. But the hundreds of town halls, devoting a lot of time to just listening to people, and speaking out about issues the community actually cares about has made you Tucsonís most respected peoplesí representative.
The public knows that unlike so many politicians, your goal in office wasnít to have a building named after you. All you ever wanted was to make the city a better place to live. As one city staff member said about the difference between you and the others, ìMolly is loved by people.î
Of course, you made some mistakes made along the way. Voting for a cat leash law, backing the private prison and caving in on the appointment of Michael Crawford to the City Council are notable examples. So too was continuing to support City Manager Michael Brown after it became obvious he needed to go.
Your often long-winded way of saying things and rambling thought patterns didnít go over well with others either, especially your male counterparts. Theyíre accustomed to meek women who can be intimidated. Some of the ways they treated you, both publicly and privately, verged on harassment. You just didnít fit the mold, and they never knew how to deal with you.
Youíll be remembered for accomplishing many little things, along with some big ones. Getting the cones off Sixth Street while saving a few small businesses from the Speedway widening come to mind. So do the new basketball court in a forgotten neighborhood park and implementing several tiny drainage improvements to keep water out of peopleís homes.
You also championed causes the media didnít cover, like increased funding for SunTran and the library system. These werenít political grandstanding issues; they are things that would have improved the city.
The constituent service your office provided will be hard to match. Your successor will have his hands full in trying to meet the expectations of people who got real service from you and your staff, not just the typical bureaucratic excuses about why things couldnít get accomplished.
Some chores are left undone, but thatís always the way it is in politics. Implementing a once-a-week garbage pickup service along with weekly recycling is still coming, it has just taken much longer than expected. Shifting the city governmentís focus to spending its money on existing residents instead of catering to developers is also moving along more slowly than anticipated. But itíll happen eventually.
For those who know you, your optimism and faith in the future of Tucson, along with your honest sincerity, will be what youíre remembered most for. Those who donít know you personally will recall you as a politician who wasnít in it for the perks or the ego gratification, but because you cared about people and our community.
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