The Skinny: Here’s how this year’s Tucson City Council races are shaping up

The landscape for this year's Tucson City Council came into focus earlier this week, as the deadline to turn in nominating petitions arrived with eight candidates filing to run for office.

No Republican candidates filed to run this year, but two independent candidates did turn in their petitions ahead of Monday's deadline.

There are three seats up for grabs in Wards 3, 5 and 6. Barring successful legal challenges to nominating petitions or write-in campaigns in the primary, here's how the ballot is shaping up:

Ward 3: This north-central seat is wide open as Paul Durham, who won the seat four years ago, stepped down last month for personal reasons. Democrat Karin Uhlich, a former Ward 3 council member, was appointed the seat but won't be seeking election this year.

Two Democrats filed to run: Kevin Dahl and Juan Padres.

Dahl turned in his signatures last week.

"We hit the ground running with strong support from friends, neighbors, and Tucson's environmental leaders," said Dahl, a resident of Ward's Samos neighborhood near Campbell and Grant for more than three decades. "Our message of addressing climate change, with its record-breaking heat and drought, has really resonated with Tucson voters."

Dahl, who has led the Tucson Audubon Society and Native Seeds/SEARCH and now works for the National Parks Conservation Association, has gathered a strong team of environmentalists behind him, including Congressman Raul Grijalva, who said that Dahl "has had a strong career as an advocate for the environment. He is strategic, passionate and inclusive."

Carolyn Campbell, a veteran of many land-use battles over the decades in Tucson, is chairing Dahl's campaign.

In a sign of strong organization, Dahl last week filed his application for city matching funds for his campaign after raising roughly $10,000, which included 235 contributions of at least $10 from city residents. Provided he qualifies after an audit (candidates need to deliver a minimum of 200 contributions of $10 or more), Dahl will be eligible for a dollar-for-dollar match of whatever he can raise, but he has to limit his campaign spending. The final cap for this year's campaigns has not yet been calculated, but the preliminary figure is $143,373.

Dahl said he would focus on developing strategies to reduce the impact on climate change on Tucson.

"We need aggressive adaptation and mitigation plans to deal with the disproportionate impact that climate will have on vulnerable communities," says Dahl. "At the same time, the Ward 3 office must continue to do a great job of providing timely information, advocacy, and access to services, especially to those most at risk in our community."

Padres, an entrepreneur who tried to unseat Pima County Supervisor Sharon Bronson in 2020, said his campaign would focus on issues related to poverty.

"Ward 3 has some of the most distressed areas in Tucson," Padres said. "It has the highest poverty rate, lowest home ownership, highest crime rate, and some of the worst infrastructure in the city. There is an abundance of vacant and decaying commercial plazas throughout the ward. I am running to try to bring back investment into the ward, which would create jobs, lower the poverty rate, increase homeownership and thus reducing crime. We need to invest in infrastructure, transportation, and affordable housing to accommodate our workforce and their ability to effectively commute to and from work. Lastly, public safety is key. If our residents and busineses do not feel safe in the ward, we will not be able to achieve any of these things. Therefore we need to invest in public safety and rethink how we approach ward 3."

No Republican has filed to run, although an independent candidate, Lucy Libosha, did deliver her signatures. Libosha, a high-school math teacher, said she wasn't "a career politician."

"I offer a working-class perspective of a person who grew up poor despite my family's strong work ethic, which in a lot of ways parallels the same stories that I hear from so many community members in Ward 3," Libosha said. "As an Independent, I am not interested in partisan alliances that conflate the needs of our city. I will continue to engage our community and continue to work to connect, uplift and invest in Ward 3 and the greater Tucson community."

Ward 6: Tucson City Councilman Steve Kozachik is facing two opponents in the Democratic primary: UA academic advisor and community radio KXCI DJ Miranda Schubert and community organizer Andres Portela.

As The Skinny reported last week, Kozachik is feeling so confident about his support in the ward as he seeks a fourth term that he said he wouldn't be seeking campaign contributions. He suggested potential donors should instead spend their money supporting local business or a nonprofit organization.

When she launched her campaign, Schubert, an academic advisor at the University of Arizona who has also hosted a feminist-oriented live talk show at Club Congress, said in a statement that she wants to see the council do more to provide affordable housing, policies that lead to higher wages and alternative policing strategies.

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