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Paul Cunningham faces Dem main problem from actual property agent Lisa Nutt

6 min read

The 2 Democrats in search of the nomination for the Ward 2 seat within the August 1 Tucson Metropolis Council main election have some sharp disagreements concerning the metropolis’s course

Councilman Paul Cunningham, who has been on the Council for 13 years, sees a neighborhood on the rebound, whereas challenger Lisa Nutt sees a metropolis on the lengthy slide down.

Nutt, an actual property agent since 2018, mentioned housing prices are skyrocketing, roads are falling to items and homelessness is uncontrolled whereas metropolis officers do little greater than purchase a number of motels.

“I can not confidently look to the long run for my youngsters and say there’s a future right here for them,” Nutt mentioned. “And so as an alternative of continuous to face on the sidelines and be an observer, I made a decision I needed to do the exhausting work and produce concerning the change that voters are telling me they need and want and admittedly deserve.”

Cunningham mentioned the town is fixing roads, adopting methods to extend the housing provide and interesting in quite a few methods to supply shelter to those that discover themselves with no roof over their heads.

“I feel I’ve been serving the East Facet truthfully and rigorously for the final decade,” Cunningham mentioned. “We’ve made quite a lot of progress right here in Tucson.”

Cunningham, 49, grew up steeped in politics. His father, George Cunningham, was a state lawmaker who additionally labored in Janet Napolitano’s workplace and as a prime administrator on the College of Arizona. His maternal grandmother was Lillian Fisher, a longtime Pima County Superior Courtroom decide.

When former Councilman Rodney Glass resigned in in 2010 to run for the U.S. Senate, Cunningham was appointed to the Council seat in Ward 2, which principally stretches east from Craycroft Highway to the town’s jap border close to Houghton Highway and from the northern fringe of the town to neighborhoods alongside twenty second Avenue. It’s dwelling to roughly 22,000 Democrats and 18,000 unbiased voters who’re eligible to vote within the main.

Nutt, 52, was raised on the Arizona-Mexico border in Douglas, the place her mom ran a flower store. She’s alternated between operating small companies right here in Tucson—a deli, a retail store—and dealing in numerous jobs in training and financial improvement. She grew to become an actual property agent in 2018 and was named “Realtor of the Yr” by the Tucson Affiliation of Realtors in 2021.

Given her background in actual property, it’s not stunning housing is a key situation in her marketing campaign. Nutt wish to see the town scale back allowing limitations and different pink tape so land may be rezoned and houses may be constructed extra rapidly.

“We have to take rapid and profound motion by way of how we contribute to that provide within the metropolis,” Nutt mentioned. “It should be infill. And it’ll be redefinition of business house and what’s known as underutilized house so dwelling builders can begin constructing properties.”

Cunningham pointed to current choices to permit the constructing of townhomes and “accent dwelling items” (aka yard casitas) as proof that the town is making it simpler to construct housing. However Nutt mentioned these adjustments took too lengthy and the Council spends an excessive amount of time slowed down in course of slightly than fixing issues.

Nutt criticized the town’s Housing First coverage as a essentially flawed strategy to homelessness. Below the coverage, the town makes an attempt to offer shelter and providers with out preconditions reminiscent of getting sober. The low limitations for help, she mentioned, create competitors for homeless-assistance operations run by nonprofit teams. She pointed to the Heart for Alternative, a one-stop help heart for the homeless situated close to Palo Verde Highway and Ajo Means and run by the Gospel Rescue Mission. She mentioned the middle, which is situated in a former resort and affords shelter, meals, clinics and different providers, has emptiness as a result of it requires these it helps to get sober to make use of its providers.

“That is thought of a high-barrier program, proper?” Nutt mentioned. “And now you must comply with the help, the providers, the sobriety. In order quickly as you (say) you need not do any of that, then we now have providers accessible in the neighborhood which are going unused. So that does not serve our neighborhood, and even those that need assistance.”

Cunningham mentioned whereas packages reminiscent of these run by Gospel Rescue Mission have a spot inside the general effort to assist the homeless, the town has a “myriad of packages” to assist people who find themselves combating psychological well being and habit points in addition to households displaced by eviction. He notes that his workplace has a crew that engages with homeless folks in Ward 2.

Nutt mentioned the Council has not finished sufficient to repair Tucson’s roads. She is fascinated with exploring options to the supplies the town is presently utilizing, maybe adopting asphalt and concrete that replicate warmth slightly than take in it.

Whereas acknowledging that many streets nonetheless want restore, Cunningham pointed to the work that has been finished after voters accredited sales-tax measures to fund avenue restore.

“Right here in Ward 2, we have been in a position to repave 16 out of 33 neighborhoods, we have been in a position to repave each single main hall besides jap twenty second Avenue, which is an RTA undertaking, however there’s some nuances to that, and it’ll in the end get finished,” Cunningham mentioned.

On the marketing campaign finance entrance, Cunningham has outpaced Nutt. He had raised $39,925 and obtained a further $31,935 in public matching funds, bringing his whole of $71,860, in response to marketing campaign finance experiences that cowl exercise by means of July 15. He had spent $67,410 on this marketing campaign.

Against this, Nutt had raised $16,620 and spent $12,800 on her marketing campaign.

However Nutt’s marketing campaign has been boosted by the Arizona Multihousing Affiliation (the lobbying group of house complicated house owners), which reported spending greater than $52,000 on mailers, texts and digital adverts by means of July 25 to help her, and the Nationwide Affiliation of Realtors, which spent $35,249 on related marketing campaign methods.

Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus, president and CEO of the AMA, mentioned the group helps Nutt as a result of her actual property expertise provides her an understanding of “the depth of the disaster and its options.”

“We help Lisa as a result of she helps constructing extra housing to assist Tucson households,” LeVinus mentioned. “She understands the necessity for extra reasonably priced housing and the way we should reform zoning legal guidelines and scale back rules that drive up the price of housing.”

Cunningham mentioned Nutt is receiving help from particular pursuits whereas getting in a dig at her opponent’s choice to register as a Democrat simply earlier than launching her marketing campaign.

“Somebody who modified their registration days earlier than saying their candidacy has utterly failed to attach with main voters, so the out-ot-town, right-wing particular curiosity teams that do help her know their likelihood to beat me is by flooding Ward 2 with exterior spending,” Cunningham mentioned. “Good luck with that.”

Nutt mentioned whereas she had been registered as an unbiased earlier than pursuing the Council seat, she had all the time been a left-of-center average.

“I contemplate myself an unbiased Democrat,” Nutt mentioned. “I’m exterior the political machine.”

The winner of the Ward 2 race will face Republican Ernie Shack within the Nov. 7 common election.

Early ballots for main races have been despatched to Tucson voters on July 5. Metropolis officers advise if voters haven’t but mailed again their ballots, they need to drop off accomplished ballots on the Tucson Metropolis Clerk’s Elections Heart, 800 E. twelfth St, or on the workplaces of the Pima County Recorder. The recorder has workplaces Downtown at 240 N. Stone Ave., on the South Facet at 6550 S. Nation Membership Rd., and at 6920 E. Broadway.

Voters can even vote in individual or flip of their ballots on Election Day at voting facilities, which can be open in every of the town’s wards.

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