Ward 6, the city council district that includes the north part of downtown and the east side of the University of Arizona, has three candidates this election who are running for a seat on the Tucson City Council.
Democrat Steve Kozachik, the UA’s Associate Director of Athletics for Facilities and Project Management, has been Ward 6’s city councilman since 2009.
Originally from Michigan, Kozachik came to Tucson at a young age, graduating from the UA with distinction with a master’s degree in higher education management. An everyday athlete himself, he has worked for the UA Department of Intercollegiate Athletics since 1988.
During Kozachik’s tenure as a city councilman, he’s worked on community economic development, rebalancing Tucson’s budget to eliminate debt, human trafficking victims and drug addicts, and enacting education reform and gun safety laws.
Though Kozachik ran unopposed in 2013, this year he is facing Republican Mariano Rodriguez and Green Party candidate Mike Cease.
Mariano Rodriguez is an architect and has never held public office. Born in Mexico, he emigrated to the United States. Due to circumstance, Rodriguez was vulnerable to deportation in his third year of college, and he and his family chose to self-deport after his graduation.
Coming back to the U.S. to work with an architecture firm in Indiana, Rodriguez came to Tucson in 1987 and became an American citizen, which he proclaims on his website to be “a lifelong dream.”
Originally from Oklahoma, Mike Cease graduated from the University of Tulsa with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering. He earned his Master of Science at the UA. He has lived in Pima County for 37 years, and is currently the owner of Database Consulting Services.
Cease has been politically involved in the Arizona Green Party, holding a precinct committeeman position since 2010. He has also held the Green Party offices of vice chairperson (2011-2013), treasurer (2013-2014) and chairperson (2014-2016) at the county level. He ran for Pima County Recorder in 2016.
The three candidates were interviewed to gauge how their plans would impact the UA community.
How will your legislative goals affect UA students?
Kozachik said that his goals would positively affect UA students in the same way as every other Tucsonan. “Everything we do affects people’s pocketbook, quality of life, public safety, roads … I don’t necessarily see a distinction between U of A students and the general public,” he said.
“How do we create jobs attractive to college grads?” he added. “I’m working with the city manager, Tucson and our creative partners’ booth at next year’s South by Southwest to advertise the city, get employers to Tucson, and market Tucson for what we have to offer.”
Rodriguez said, “My goal is to promote a lot of the students to stay here. Some of the ideas I have will keep the students here, like promoting certain types of job industries. We need a different kind of job base that the university could provide.”
He said that although there are many engineering graduates, “It’s a matter of the city to see what type of field we have to implement.”
Mike Cease said, “Probably all of our major proposals will affect students directly or indirectly. The first is our Green New Deal for Tucson, our response to the dual crisis of income inequality and climate change.”
Cease then detailed his proposal for a retrofit project throughout the city. He said, “We prioritize homes and small businesses in low income communities; renewable energy, water conservation ... There’s no reason we can’t be 100 percent solar.”
What issues do you feel are at the forefront of this election?
Cease: “Our campaign opposes the Dakota Access Pipeline and strongly supports indigenous people’s rights; what happened in North Dakota affects us in Tucson. Wells Fargo has investments in the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the city of Tucson has $50,000,000 of investment holdings in this bank. We want to divert these investments to local credit unions.”
He added, “Environmental justice is an issue. There is a decades-long history of water contamination on South side. There are justice needs of these victims; they’re still getting sick… we need to bring justice to those that can’t sell their homes in the Superfund site.”
Rodriguez: “Infrastructure, our safety — which is police and fire — and our local job base. I think those are our three main goals.” He said, “I’ve been here 30 years, the problems I see with the city is the current city council saying there are things that need to be fixed, but it’s at a slow-paced level.
"It seems like there’s only been change in certain areas … in my door knocking, I’ve heard that a main concern of citizens is for the council to look at the city as a whole.”
Kozachik: “My opponent, Mariano Rodriguez, is hiding behind his last name to hide the fact that he’s a huge Trump guy. He wants to build the wall, slam the door on immigrants and does not reflect the values of this community.” Kozachik also expressed that the Republican party also “does not reflect the values of this community,” and “is out of touch with the present” in terms of gun safety, reproductive rights and others.
“In 2012, we had a gun buyback program. We worked with the general public to get cash donations to buy Safeway gift cards — since that’s where it happened with Gabby Giffords — and offered gift cards for guns for people who wanted to get their weapons out of circulation," he said.
Are there any final statements you’d like the UA community to know about your campaign or candidacy?
Rodriguez: “I really want to promote the graduates to stay here. The main focus of our job base is to see how we can actually retain these students. We need to hear from them to see what Tucson can do for them. My goals are to actually promote new thinking, promote new ways of doing things in the council.”
Cease: “We’re the party of no excuses, we’re the party of action, we’re here to fundamentally change status quo … we’re here for systemic transformative change … furthermore, just to say again: we support people’s needs and not corporate greed.”
Kozachik: “One of my goals is to take money out of politics. I began my campaign November of last year, I decided I was going to run a campaign without donations. I actually mail back donations.”
Tucson will decide which one will take office on Nov. 7. For a full breakdown of this year's local election, check out the Daily Wildcat's coverage HERE.
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