Monday, February 05, 2007

The Tucson Mayoral Race…What Are the Issues?

There’s been considerable speculation about who will throw a hat in the ring to become Tucson’s next mayor. What’s been missing to date is any speculation about what the key issues will be…or what they ought to be.

Tucson Symphony Conductor George Hanson (in a Star guest editorial) has suggested a topic:

“The vision: a performing arts, education and technology center, celebrating our Native American, Hispanic and European heritages — the centerpiece that is missing from the Rio Nuevo table. An 1,800 seat concert hall, easily converted into a ball- or showroom; a renovated Tucson Music Hall, perfect for opera and Broadway shows; a shared plaza with restaurants, coffee shops, a taqueria and open gallery space; a jazz club nearby; education and technology facilities to bring the enormous benefits of the performing arts to young people, and to thos
e who can't afford it.

“What's wrong with this vision? No one else sees it.

“Perhaps it's tunnel vision: bridge, arena, science center. But none of those projects can compete with the economic impact, dollar for dollar, of the performing arts.”

I think this is worth making a key issue of the election. It bears not just on the economic viability of Rio Nuevo and downtown re-development, but on what kind of city Tucs
on wants to become.

Do we want to be simply a great place for conventions (the Walkup vision, apparently) or do we want to grow as a great cultural center--- the Athens, if you will, of the Southwest. Do we want businesses to come here because the land and labor are cheap, or do we want businesses to move here because the cultural dy
namic attracts the leadership of those businesses?

However it plays out this idea should be a major issue in the coming election.


Art Jacobson said...

See a short performing arts post over at Data Port Two

x4mr said...

Ok, Art, now you're treading mighty close to my neck of the woods, not the arts, but the development stuff.

By the way, should you choose to reply, please use my blogger name for the next few months. When I publish SSY, anonymity is over. Until then, I am x4mr.

First though, have to ask if you have met Hanson. Have you seen him perform? I'm actually more interested to know if you've had any conversation with him and what you think. Based on however much data or little, I'd be interested in your opinion of the individual.

Regarding development, Tucson has been, well, a fiasco. I recently posted about a cigar shop conversation where a guy bitch slapped Tucson regarding economic development, our lack of freeway system, our pathetic results in recruiting companies into town.

And this is in the fastest growing state in the nation! Last year some folks flew to Austin. That's a town that completely gets what you are talking about.

When you tread on the turf of the development of this town, its infrastructure, and its economic growth, walk carefully.

Rattlesnakes are everywhere, and they bite hard.

Art Jacobson said...


I don't know Hanson and have only heard him conduct once or twice. I do, however, think his op-ed piece was spot on.


revgerry said...

Thanks, Art,
I love this direction, keep plugging away at it. Without a vision, the people perish. We want to embellish and enliven our unique character, not turn into a "this could be anyplace" community..

Kralmajales said...

Tucson appears to be getting the development that the developers want. The RTA, by design, does little but fund roads making it easier to live farther and farther outside the city of Tucson. Yes we will have more track housing, more malls that are farther and farther away, and as the Skinny once put it "New Tucson" to the East and NW.

All fine...and indeed development, but is this the kind of development that we want and what jobs will people take to lure them here?