Nina Trasoff 

Nina Trasoff says she got into the race for Tucson City Council because she's worried about the community's direction.

"I have a vision of trying to maintain the essence of Tucson as we grow," says Trasoff, 59. "I'm seeing just a complete lack of planning."

Planning is Trasoff's biggest buzzword on the campaign trail. It's a catch-all solution that covers everything from budget problems to downtown revitalization to dealing with future growth on the city's undeveloped perimeter. While she's generally short on details of how her plans would work, she's convinced that having better planning would resolve many community problems.

Trasoff made her debut on the ballot last year with an unsuccessful run for the Arizona Corporation Commission, but she has the poise of an experienced politician. The polish comes from a lifetime of experience on the stage. After growing up in Westchester, N.Y., Trasoff moved to Manhattan to pursue a dancing career on Broadway.

Three years later, she relocated to Los Angeles to break into television, working with such stars as Bill Cosby, and continued dancing onstage, traveling with Sammy Davis Jr. to perform in Las Vegas. "It was a good way to spend my 20s," she says.

As she grew older, Trasoff shifted gears. She returned to school to study journalism and relocated to Tucson, where she made her on-air debut for KGUN Channel 9 on her 30th birthday. It was the start of a six-year reporting career at the station that many Tucsonans still remember. In 1983, she took over public-relations chores at the station for two years.

Trasoff jumped to the PR department at University Medical Center in 1985. When she left that job, she founded her own public-relations firm, Trasoff and Associates, which she has run for the last 17 years.

"I just love this community," Trasoff says. "I met my husband here, and this is where we decided we wanted to raise our family."

While she has little experience in city politics, Trasoff has become well connected through her work with more than 30 local nonprofits, including the Southern Arizona AIDS Foundation, the Arizona Center for Law in the Public Interest and the Ronald McDonald House.

Trasoff got into the council race following some prodding from county Democratic Party chairman Paul Eckerstrom, who was impressed by Trasoff's performance during last year's Corporation Commission race.

Thanks to her television exposure, Trasoff has the sort of celebrity quality that might bring an edge to defeating someone with the Ronstadt name. She says as she walks neighborhoods, she's hearing a consistent message.

"They don't want Fred, and they're excited about my candidacy, and they think I can beat him," she says.

More by Jim Nintzel


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