The Skinny: Karin Uhlich Rejoins Tucson City Council To Complete Durham's Term in Ward 3


To no great surprise, the Tucson City Council appointed Democrat Karin Uhlich to temporarily take over her old job on the Tucson City Council.

Uhlich, who served as the Ward 3 councilmember from 2005 to 2017, will finish out the final year of Democrat Paul Durham's term, but she has said she won't seek election to the seat later this year. Durham stepped down as of Monday, March 1, for personal reasons; he has been caring for his husband, who has terminal cancer.

Mayor Regina Romero made her preference for Uhlich known from the jump, and while the city belatedly made it possible for others to apply for the gig, it was all a dog and pony show.

There's still a chance Uhlich's tenure will last through 2022, as the City of Tucson is still awaiting a Supreme Court decision regarding a state law that would force the city to move elections, including this year's contest, to even years to correspond with presidential and midterm elections. The city challenged the law, saying that its charter allows it to decide when elections take place and it's not the state's business. The state argues that it's a matter of statewide concern if participation in Tucson's elections is significantly lower than voter turnout in presidential and midterm elections. A decision from the court is expected any day now.

Assuming we do have a city election this year, it appears Councilman Steve Kozachik could have a challenger in this year's Democratic primary.

Miranda Schubert, an academic advisor at the University of Arizona who also served as a DJ on KXCI community radio and hosted a feminist-oriented live talk show at Club Congress, announced this week that she was challenging the two-term councilman in the Aug. 3 primary.

Schubert 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.

"The majority of Tucson's residents aren't people who are preoccupied with the resale value of their home," she said. "They're families like mine, working for the institutions and small businesses that drive Tucson's economy, but feeling ignored and left out of whatever future our leadership is imagining for the city."

She added that increasing rents were creating a housing affordability crisis.

"You cannot tell people in this city that rents are too low or actually affordable when they have evidence in their daily life to the contrary," she said.

Kozachik said that Schubert "was welcome to take part in the democratic process."

"These jobs are first and foremost about addressing the day-to-day concerns of our constituents," Kozachik added. "I believe she's going to learn that my office has a pretty damn good record with constituent services and being accessible and responsive. Continuing that personal touch is a big reason I'm doing this one more time."

Kozachik was elected to the Tucson City Council as a Republican in 2009 but switched to the Democratic Party after squabbling with GOP members of the Arizona Legislature. He won reelection as a Democrat in 2013 and 2017.

No Republican candidates have filed to run in Ward 6.

Signatures are due for candidates in just about a month, on April 5.

In other election news: In the Ward 3 seat left open by Paul Durham's resignation and Karin Uhlich's promise not to seek election, Democrat Kevin Dahl, a longtime environmentalist who has worked for Native Seeds/SEARCH, is collecting signatures, as is Democrat Juan Padres, an entrepreneur who lost a bid for the Pima County Board of Supervisors to Sharon Bronson. If both make the ballot, they will face off in the Aug. 3 primary. Also looking to run for the seat is an independent candidate, Lucy Libosha. Libosha is a military veteran and cycling enthusiast who has worked as an educator, according to her Facebook page. She says she would focus on issues related to homelessness, jobs, mental health and public transportation.

No Republican candidates have filed in Ward 3.

In Ward 5, Democrat Richard Fimbres hasn't yet drawn a Republican challenger but independent candidate Lucas Rodriguez, a community organizer and hip-hop enthusiast, has filed to run.

A push to remove Mayor Regina Romero from office failed to gather enough signatures.

Organizers of the effort needed 24,710 signatures to force a recall election. A cursory examination by the City Clerk's Office showed the group only collected 24,153 signatures.

Organizer Joseph Morgan, a onetime conservative columnist for the Arizona Daily Star who came in third in a three-way primary for Congress in 2020, boasted on Facebook that the effort was a huge success, despite it being a failure: "Make no mistake," he crowed, "this was a win."

Morgan added that the recall group "did what no one said could be done." Quite the opposite, actually. Morgan and his followers did exactly what most non-delusional people predicted, in that they failed to gather enough valid signatures.

For a guy who complains that people on the left are always changing the meaning of words, Morgan manages to redefine "losing" as "winning" when it comes to his own efforts. Watching him play politics is kind of like giving a football to a little kid and letting him run up and down the field. It's fun to see the excitement in his face as he pretends to be a star, even though you know he's never gonna score a touchdown.