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Political Diary: Two independent candidates are running for mayor of Tucson | Subscriber

The campaign is on! The 2023 municipal campaign, that is.

Two independents have filed papers with the city to run for mayor of Tucson.

This puts them on track to run against incumbent Mayor Regina Romero. The mayor, a Democrat, says she intends to run for office.

The two independents are Ed Ackerley, an ad agency owner who ran against Romero in 2019, and Zach Yentzer, a first-time candidate who serves as president of the Menlo Park Neighborhood Association.

In 2019, Romero’s toughest run came in the Democratic primary, where she defeated Steve Farley and Randi Dorman, winning 50% of the vote to Farley’s 37% and Dorman’s 12%.

In the general election, Romero won 56% of the vote to Ackerley’s 39% and Green Party candidate Mike Cease’s 4%.

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Ackerley said Thursday he considered the 2019 race to be relatively successful, although he lost.

“The last time I ran, not a single person in Tucson besides my wife and my mom knew who I was,” he said.

Now, Ackerley said, he has some name recognition.

“I still have the same fire in my stomach. I want Tucson to be a growing and prosperous place for my grandchildren and my family,” he said.

Ackerley and Yentzer know each other and have spoken about the race. Ackerley said he’s not worried about two independents splitting the vote of people who oppose Romero.

“You can’t tell people not to race, so I’m just going to face everyone who comes,” he said.

Yentzer thinks otherwise. When asked if either of them could win if they both raced, he replied “No”.

“It’s going to have to be like an unofficial primary,” Yentzer said. “We’re both in early. Let’s see who has the most juice in the tank.”

Whichever independent candidate has the better campaign as the process unfolds should carry on while the other drops out, he said.

Yentzer has been studying Tucson’s urban issues for years, not only as a neighborhood activist, but also as the host of a radio talk show he named “Tipping Point” because he thinks Tucson is at a fateful moment. Yentzer’s day job is executive director of Tucson Young Professionals.

“I have a deep sense of urgency,” Yentzer said, noting the city’s struggles with public safety, homelessness and housing prices. “We have a window of time to start making the right decisions, to start solving these problems at scale.”

Ackerley and Yentzer also lamented the polarization of local politics and what they see as the import of national conflicts into local political discussion. They said they would try to focus strictly on fixing Tucson’s problems.

The general election is on November 7, 2023. The other seats up for grabs are the Ward 1 City Council seats, currently held by Lane Santa Cruz; Ward 2, currently owned by Paul Cunningham; and Ward 4, currently owned by Nikki Lee.

Grant takes the politicians out

Normally, a $25 million transportation grant might not be that big — well worth a press release, sure, but not a press conference with all the bells and whistles.

U.S. Senator Mark Kelly repeatedly mentioned bipartisanship Thursday during a news conference to announce a $25 million federal grant to help pay for repairs to the 22nd Street Bridge.

Arizona Daily Star Tim Steller

It’s still election time. And Democrats like U.S. Senator Mark Kelly are working hard to highlight the positive side of their accomplishments leading the federal government.

So on Thursday morning, Kelly and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and other politicians were at an unlikely site for a press conference: many across from Tucson’s Union Pacific yard with a clear view of the East Bridge. 22nd Street running through it.

Hosted by Mayor Regina Romero, they announced a grant that will help pay for the construction of a new bridge and the reconstruction of 22nd Street on either side.

In his comments, Kelly sounded a lot like fellow U.S. Senator from Arizona Kyrsten Sinema, emphasizing the word “bipartisan” when describing the infrastructure bill that produced the grants unveiled Thursday in Tucson and Phoenix.

“It was almost exactly a year ago when I was returning to Arizona after voting on the floor of the US Senate for this bipartisan — bipartisan — infrastructure law,” Kelly said, noting that he had worked with Republicans on the bill.

“Let me say it wasn’t easy,” he continued. “I find it so important to do things in a bipartisan way. It’s not always the easiest path. But the results, I’m sure, are always much better for the American people.”

Kelly’s Republican challenger, Blake Masters, has repeatedly criticized Kelly for voting at the same rate as the Democrats.

“You always know which way Mark Kelly is going to vote. Whatever the party line, he follows it”, Masters said in a video posted to Twitter this week. “Mark Kelly is lying when he says he is moderate. He is lying when he says he is independent.”

Lake calls for an end to the FBI

On Thursday, GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake appeared on an online show with a host, Steven Crowder, who called for “war” on Monday after the FBI raided Donald Trump’s home.

Lake Kari

Ross D. Franklin, Associated Press

Crowder jumped straight into what he said was his new litmus test for GOP candidates: whether they favor “disbanding the FBI and gutting the IRS.”

Lake’s response: “I would absolutely be for that. Of course, I’m running for state office and not for federal office.”

Lake said in a written statement after the search Monday that it was “one of the darkest days in American history, the day our government, originally created by the people, turned against we”.

Contact columnist Tim Steller at [email protected] or ​520-807-7789. On Twitter: @senyorreporter