Hartmann for Council

The Tucson Weekly endorses Democrat Gayle Hartmann in Ward 6.

Some three decades ago, Gayle Hartmann was looking out a window as she washed dishes in her kitchen in a home on Tucson's west side.

She remembers seeing a house being built on a ridgeline that she thought was part of Saguaro National Monument, as it was known in those days. Why, she wondered, was a home going up on protected land?

Turns out the land wasn't protected because it wasn't part of the federal reserve.

The incident launched Hartmann into a long career fighting for open space and better planning in Southern Arizona. Armed with a master's degree in anthropology from the UA, she has worked as an archaeologist to understand our past and foresee the future.

She has fought to see park boundaries expanded. She helped design a trail plan for the region. She worked on the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission, where she often found herself outvoted when she opposed the rezonings that haunt us today. She co-chaired the successful 1998 open-space bond committee. She's been on the board of trustees for the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and St. Michael's School. She worked on designing the county's Comprehensive Plan and now sits on the steering committee of the county's Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan, the embattled project that offers the last, best hope of managing growth we have left.

Thirty years of fighting for protection of the desert in these parts can make a cynic of the most optimistic Pollyanna.

But Hartmann has persevered. Earlier this year, she launched a campaign to unseat Councilman Fred Ronstadt, the Republican who represents midtown Ward 6. Hartmann promises a different kind of representation than Ronstadt has provided through his first term.

Ronstadt likes to say the community has a new optimism since he joined the council. We think much of that new optimism has been felt by the development community, which seems quite optimistic, now that the city has annexed more than 30 square miles of vacant state land on the community's southern border, that nothing will stand in the way of blading and grading and sticking future generations with the bill.

Somebody is planning the future of all that empty land, but it ain't Tucsonans. It's being designed behind closed doors by the State Land Department and the Growth Lobby, with an emphasis on maximizing profit. The Land Department thinks the area should be home to as many as 325,000 people in the next half-century.

We'll grant that much of the land is flat scrub desert that's ideal for building homes. But unless the city takes steps to make sure growth pays for itself--with impact fees, for example--the cost will be ours to bear. Every dollar that's spent on roads in the New Pueblo is a dollar that won't be spent fixing streets in the existing city. Can we afford that with today's overextended transportation budget?

Hartmann understands these issues. She's been working them for 30 years. She's exactly the sort of person we need on the Tucson City Council today.

Hartmann won't pay lip service to finding ways to make growth pay for itself, while carrying the Growth Lobby's water. She won't conspire with mall owners who see surrounding residents as pests who stand in the way of their profits. She won't come to the aid of rich billboard barons who think their wealth puts them above restrictions passed by Tucson voters.

Hartmann will represent the people who live here today, instead of robbing them to make life better for the people who are expected to move here tomorrow.

Vote for Gayle Hartmann on November 6.