Quiz the Candidates

Under what conditions would you support a half-cent sales tax dedicated to transportation?

Ward 3

Republican Kathleen Dunbar: I will not support any tax increase for any purpose without voter approval. Transportation is a high priority for the community. I will support a program developed with significant public input in determining how the funding raised from a tax should be distributed between road improvements (including bicycle lanes), sidewalks, public transit and paratransit. I would be especially interested in seeing in the plan innovative approaches to transportation solutions.

Democrat Vicki Hart: I would support the half-cent sales tax if it was preceded by a viable and specific plan that would provide both immediate improvement and long-range solutions to our transportation problems.

Democrat Paula Aboud: I have serious reservations about taxation without impact fees on growth. City taxpayers are being asked to provide roads to outlying developments while developers pocket the profits (without paying their fair share). Let those who benefit the most pay their fair share.

Another condition for the tax: developing a diverse citizen advisory committee to work with experts and establish a prioritized list of transit/transportation projects for our city. We need a plan, and then we need action!

Libertarian Jonathan Hoffman: I would discuss it, if the City of Tucson first did the following: (1) Abandon any plan to sell bonds for road maintenance; bonding is for capitalizing special projects, not maintenance. (2) Cease all inappropriate city spending, and transfer those funds to transportation. (3) Have the mayor, councilmen and city manager sign, in blood, an affidavit saying that they will never spend tax money on proven transit failures like light rail.

Green Ted O'Neill: I would support a half-cent transportation sales tax if the revenue gained were equally divided to support public transportation and road construction. Public transportation is crucial to improving economic conditions for the working poor. Funding is also needed to provide bus pull-out lanes and bike paths on city roads. The Green Party's approach is to move people less by supporting conditions that redevelop neighborhoods as urban villages and promote a clean environment.

Ward 5

Democrat Steve Leal: We need transit to help people get to work, social activities, shopping and improving air quality. At least 50 percent of a half-cent sales tax should go to Sun Tran and Van Tran. The next 25 percent should be dedicated to neighborhood streets; the remaining 25 percent should be for other roads, sidewalks and bypass. Growth in the tax over the next 10 years should be distributed along the same proportions. No money for grade-separated intersections or state routes.

Democrat Jesse Lugo: If the election is held this fall, I will support a half-cent tax for major streets, neighborhood streets and mass transportation. If the vote is in the spring, I will hold several public meetings to get as much input as possible from my Ward 5 residents.

The half-cent sales tax must be tied to a new plan. Other revenue sources and unresolved issues must be part of a comprehensive effort. This includes state highway revenue funds (H.U.R.F.), distribution equalization and state gasoline tax redistribution to the region.

Ward 6

Democrat Gayle Hartmann: This tax proposal is yet another cost of our out-of-control growth. According to PAG projections, "existing sources of revenue" are more than enough to fund the existing transportation system through 2025, but not projected future demand. Therefore, I'd support the tax only if it is tied to a realistic growth plan that adequately addresses Tucson traffic problems and doesn't just encourage still more sprawl. Any tax should emphasize an effective transit system and existing roads.

Republican Fred Ronstadt: The city must clearly articulate a specific plan that recognizes how our community lives, works and plays. It is critical that the plan comes from the community, not city staff, and takes a multifaceted approach. Regarding a "sales tax" as the dedicated revenue source: While it is the easiest solution, it is not the best. We also have an opportunity, and obligation, to look at other funding sources before going straight to a sales tax.

Whaddaya wanna know? Send your questions for the candidates to us at nintzel@tucsonweekly.com.

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