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Candidate commentary

Schubert: City Council should vote for differential water rates, charge non-Tucson residents more

Miranda Schubert is a Democrat challenging City Councilman Steve Kozachik in the Ward 6 primary election:

As a Ward 6 City Council candidate who is passionate about innovative policy-making that meaningfully prioritizes sustainability and equity, I proudly support the Our Water Tucson proposal.

A climate emergency was declared last year, and if the word emergency means anything, it means that urgent action is demanded now, and that business as usual is no longer acceptable. We cannot continue to subsidize the life styles of wealthy homeowners who are unwilling to pay their fair share, nor is it humane to make over 10,000 working families pay approximately $3 million in water debt that has accrued since the pandemic hit.

Current Council members: you have the opportunity to demonstrate visionary leadership by baking into the policy a requirement that the revenue from the differential rates be applied to not only cancelling the water debt, but also expanding support and access to low-income assistance programs for working families, as well as drastically increasing investment in climate resiliency programs across the city to support green infrastructure, rainwater harvesting, and tree planting.

Public service means balancing leadership with representation. Representation has to do with making sure you're connecting with and hearing from a wide range of constituents, and trying your best to make decisions that honor the lived experiences of the people who are most impacted.

It's great to see the city continue making improvements to the ways in which public feedback is gathered, and I hope that energy can continue.

The fact that the survey results seem to show a lot of opposition to this proposal should be taken with a grain of salt, since the vast majority of survey respondents do not live within our city limits. They are not invested in our infrastructure, although they are using it in order to receive their water. Our roads continue to crumble, our water supply continues to be depleted, and in the end, it's working families, frontline workers, and folks without a roof over their head or decent, well-maintained housing who suffer the most.

It's the job of elected officials such as yourselves to think about the people who don't have the time or privilege to complete surveys or call in to meetings or attend town halls because they are too busy putting food on the table and making rent. That is representation.

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The leadership part that needs to be balanced with that representation piece says that there are basic responsibilities our representatives have: safeguarding the health, safety, and well-being of the people with an awareness that money isn't the only indicator of worth, and that equity and sustainability must be meaningfully considered in all decisions.

What do our policies say about our values as a city? Whose comfort is being prioritized?

Your courage is called for at this moment. Please vote in approval of Our Water Tucson. Let's stop giving away our most precious resource for so little, and let's bake into the policy that any revenue must go toward canceling the water debt, expanding low-income assistance programs, and climate resiliency measures.

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