Guest Opinion

City Councilman Steve Kozachik is asking his constituents to forget about campaign fundraising, and rehire him based on how well he’s worked for the community

The last 18 months of politics is screaming out for change. We've witnessed a new low bar having been set for civility and honest debate. And we've seen yet again the impact money is having on our political system. I believe we can do better.

This column is my formal announcement that I'm again applying to work for you on the Tucson City Council. And I am announcing now that this campaign will be fundamentally different than what we just witnessed.

Public service is a job. It's a job for which the public holds us accountable for the decisions we make. Those include how we handle your finances, as well as the causes we champion throughout the community. And we're held accountable for our willingness to put in the hours necessary to do this job right, and for taking the extra time to ensure everyone has a voice in our decisions.

We're accountable for the entire body of our work.

I am reapplying to do this job to ensure that in reaching our full potential, Tucson remains the wonderful place that it is. But when we see candidates for office resort to the bitter and ugly personal attacks that just occurred, and when we see spending at the excessive levels it has reached, one wonders what the true motivations are behind such campaigns.

I said above that this campaign will be fundamentally different than what we just witnessed. It is a job application. I now have a record that I present for your consideration. That includes the work I've done getting us to a structurally balanced budget. It includes my work in areas related to the revitalization of downtown, smart regional economic development, and protecting home rule. It includes my work on behalf of victims of trafficking, drug addiction and education, gun safety and animal welfare. And it includes community work bridging the gaps that are caused by religious and racial bigotry.

I will recognize the built-in advantage of incumbency and a good record, and with that I will set the example of pulling money out of politics. During this campaign, I will not be asking for financial donations. Instead, I look forward to meeting with you in your living rooms and at events, sitting talking about our community and hearing your thoughts and ideas about the issues that are important to you.

Somebody has to be first to set the example of changing the unhealthy trajectory of what money is doing to our political system. I'm going to give it a whirl. I ask that you consider donating any money you would have otherwise given to my re-election to a local non-profit you find worthy of support. There are plenty throughout the community.

Why announce now eleven months before the election? Before the inauguration, and before the state legislature has returned to session after the November election? To send a clear and unmistakable signal that in the aftermath of the recent ugly and divisive political season, I'll be all-in on continuing to defend Tucson, our values, and the progress we're making. We're better than the political rhetoric we've been hearing.

We hear all the time politicians say we need to address the excessive influence of money in politics. I am announcing a candidacy that will act on that claim. Call it performing without a safety net, but I will not be asking any of you for donations to this campaign. Let's see what happens when a person is simply applying to constituents for a reappointment to the job he's been doing, and not asking them to dip into their wallets.

We hear all the time politicians claim to be running on their record. But the negative advertising clouds that message. In the past 7 years I've been accessible to constituents and to the press. In this campaign none of that will change. Politics can and should be a civil discussion of policy. That's where this campaign will go.

We've just seen how Independently funded campaigns enter the process and muddy the politics – if they come, judge my record. I look forward to meeting with you on a personal level. We'll be talking policy, and we'll be talking Tucson.

All of that means I may have to work harder since I won't be buying advertising or any of those signs that clutter our streetcorners. But a funny thing will happen when we take money out of the process – you'll get to know me on a personal level.

As public officials, we're doing a job for the community. Judge me on how well I've done that.

Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik represents Ward 6.

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