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There's a Republican running for Tucson mayor after all

Filing as a write-in candidate and throwing up the longest of long shots is Al Pesqueira, a charter school staffer who has joined the race for Tucson mayor.

Pesqueira's name won't be printed on the general election ballot; he didn't attempt to qualify to be listed by running as a write-in in the primary last month.

Pesqueira is a political novice who doesn't yet have the backing of Pima County Republican Party leadership, and would have an uphill climb even with a well-funded campaign and his name printed on ballots.

There are 117,000 registered Democrats in Tucson, and 58,000 Republicans, as well as 81,000 non-party voters in the city.

With Democratic nominee Regina Romero, independent candidate Ed Ackerley and Green Party pick Mike Cease all appearing on the ballot, Pesqueira will have to have more voters write out his name (and spell it reasonably close enough) rather than just fill in a bubble, as with the others.

That'd be a tall order even for a candidate with name recognition. But Pesqueira, who works as a monitor at Tucson Preparatory School, is a newcomer to running for office.

He has announced that his platform is "Here and Now Tucson," an acronym for "Housing, Education, Roads/infrastructure, Economics & No sanctuary city, Occupational development and Water and solar," according to his campaign website.

That's nearly more letters than the total number of visitors to his site, which displayed a hit counter showing a total of 79 people had viewed it as of early Friday afternoon.

Pesqueira set up a GoFundMe for his campaign three weeks ago, raising $600 of the $750 he's pulled in thus far with two donations back in August, and quietly filed his candidacy paperwork with the City Clerk's Office on Sept. 4.

He registered his campaign website on August 30.

Pesqueira, who said he's a Tucson native and Marine veteran and has been a youth pastor, set up a "#PreacherforMayor2019" group on Facebook on August 8.

That's the day that he said he first spoke with staffers at the City Clerk's Office about running for mayor.

The deadline to file to run as a recognized write-in candidate in that election was July 18, nearly a month prior.

"I assumed someone was running for the Republican primary. Only after receiving my ballot did I find out Sam Nagy wasn’t running for mayor," Pesqueira said. "I felt that someone needed to run."

Nagy, also a political newcomer, had attempted to gather enough nominating signatures to run for mayor in the Republican primary, but fell short. Because he filed his petitions but didn't have enough signatures, he was barred from trying to get on the general election ballot by running as a write-in in the mayoral primary. Instead, he shifted to the Ward 1 City Council race, where he cleared the bar by garnering more than 84 write-in votes.

Pesqueira had quietly encouraged people to write in his name on GOP primary ballots, only learning after the August 27 primary that votes for him hadn't been tallied because he hadn't declared his candidacy a month earlier. A write-in candidate would have needed at least 1,167 votes in the Republican mayoral primary to qualify to appear on the November ballot.

Some 4,800 Republicans did write in something on the mayor line of their ballots, but because there were no declared candidates, no votes were tallied.

Ten times as many Democrats participated in their party primary, with more than 49,000 casting ballots across the city.

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The last day to register to vote in the city general election is October 7. Ballots in the all mail-in election will be sent to voters beginning October 10.

"I'm a member of the veteran community and an avid motorcycle rider as well - Live Free, Ride Free!," Pesqueira's campaign site reads. "My faith is still very important to me and my family and we stay active in our home church."

Pesqueira said he's bought 100 red-and-white yard signs, placing them at high-traffic intersections. He said that he hasn't yet spent any of the funds he's raised via GoFundMe, and has had trouble opening a campaign bank account.

Among the bullet points in his campaign platform, Pesqueira said he supports:

  • Making homes and apartments affordable
  • Legalizing recreational marijuana, with a portion of fund earmarked for education
  • Expanding public transit and building more bike, carpool and motorcycle lanes
  • Creating a "task force that pursues and entices companies to move to Tucson"
  • Giving incentives to businesses to move into commercially vacant areas
  • "I embrace strong border security"
  • "I want to help all immigrants that come here legally"
  • Creating a "city H. R. Department that helps individual citizens of Tucson in planning and advising their career paths"
  • Giving residential water customers credits for conserving water on a quarterly basis
  • Using solar energy in all city buildings
  • Requiring all "subcontractors with the city" to use solar energy
  • "New construction will also have solar energy as primary resource of energy"
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