Tom Heath: Good morning Tucson. It’s a beautiful Sunday in the Old Pueblo and I want to thank you for spending a part of your brunch hour with us on your downtown Tucson Community sponsored rock and roll radio station. This week we discuss eight years in the life of a mayor and what’s next for soon-to-be private citizen Jonathan Rothschild. Each and every Sunday, our focus is on social cultural and economic impacts in Tucson’s Urban core, and we shed light on hidden gems everyone should know about. From A Mountain to the U of A and all stops in between, you get the inside track right here on 99.1 FM, streaming on DowntownRadio.org. Also available on your iPhone or Android by using our very own Downtown Radio app.
Tom Heath: Today is September 22nd. My name is Tom Heath and you are listening to Life along the Streetcar. If you want to reach us on the show, you can get us by email [email protected]. Head over to Facebook if you want to interact with us, our page there is Life Along the Streetcar and on Twitter, if that is your social media of choice, you’ll find us with a handle @StreetcarLife.
Tom Heath: We’re going to start Today’s Show with a little electric news. There was some electricity in the air last Thursday. I don’t know if you are at Jacome Plaza, but on Thursday, there was a Electric Car Day, Electric Vehicle Day, and it was hosted by Green Living Magazine. They brought out electric vehicles. They did a presentation on how we are moving to a more electric future the benefits of doing that and one of the things on display there was a electric bus a passenger bus.
Tom Heath: Now you may have remembered in the news not too long ago. We heard that the City of Tucson will be getting three of these electric buses and they are doing so because of a Federal grant. It’s about eight hundred, nine hundred thousand dollars, I believe, per electric bus, which I understand is double that of a diesel bus, but the long-term impact and the lower maintenance costs seem to outweigh that over time.
Tom Heath: So you’ll start to see those electric buses in the Downtown area and you’ll be on the lookout for those, and if you want more on the event that was held last Thursday, you can go to Green Living Magazine AZ, we will put the link on our Facebook page right after the show.
Tom Heath: When Jonathan Rothschild was elected a Mayor of Tucson, he called the current office holder the time, Bob Walk-up, and he asked for an office so he could get himself situated, get the lay of the land so he’d be ready to hit the ground running when his term officially started. Well, Mayor Walkup was very gracious, offered his own office. And so a month ahead of schedule, Rothschild was off and running.
Tom Heath: Now certainly, as with any elected official, he’s had supporters over the last eight years and he’s had detractors. But what is undeniable is that Tucson has changed in those eight years. The skyline has changed, the types of businesses moving to Tucson has changed, the people, the population and the possibilities are all different than they were when he took office in 2011. So as his time in office comes to an end and just a couple of months, we decided to sit down with him and find out what we could expect from Jonathan Rothschild once he is out of office.
Tom Heath: December 4th 2011.
Mayor Rothschild: I don’t think I can remember back that far before you officially take office wagon. What’s going through your mind at that point?
Mayor Rothschild: I think it was all about a learning curve. I think in this is not just for my position, but for almost all of these elected positions, people run for office because I have a passion for something. In my case, it was just a pretty generalized passion to make Tucson a better place, to make it a place where we could have more jobs so that our kids could stay in town. And it was pretty much that simple.
Mayor Rothschild: I think when most people run for office they have a passion of some kind, when they get into office they find out that their passion is a good thing to have but that the day-to-day work is so different.
Mayor Rothschild: I’ll tell you a story that you’ll probably like: so the day after I was elected, first Tuesday in November, I was all excited and I knew Bob Walkup pretty well. And so I called him, I said “Bob, I’m going to come up tomorrow. And if you could just give me a office in your in the mayor’s office, I’ll follow you for a month and just learn what the job is.”
Mayor Rothschild: So I come in the next day and Bob’s all dressed in a nice suit and as nice as he can be, because Bob is the nicest guy in the world. He I said “well can I have an office?” He shook my hand. “You can have my office!” shook my hand said “and if you need anything, give me a call.” And walked out.
Tom Heath: There you go, welcome aboard!
Mayor Rothschild: And so it was really, which was nice because I got that extra month. I did need Bob one time for something. I called him and he took care of it. So during that month. I started to learn what the job was really about and it’s a lot about constituent Services just responding to people not even always giving them the answer they want because sometimes you can’t give them the answer they want but giving him an answer and if the answer is we can’t do that telling them why and people tend to be satisfied with that then it’s a question of working with the manager and every manager. I talked to and every former mayor I talked to said in this odd form of government we have, that the manager and the mayor have to work hand in glove. So at the time it was Richard Miranda, who was interum at the time but was a good manager, and we just started working together and we had issues then, that thank goodness we haven’t had for a long time.
Mayor Rothschild: We had a transportation department that had some serious issues. We had some issues we had Financial issues that I don’t think any cities ever really out of, but they were very serious. And so we just start working together through those and in doing that I learned what it was to be the mayor one of the things that I was not expecting was because when I ran for mayor I said, I’m going to be a hard-working mayor every day. I’m coming in. I’m not cutting any ribbons. I’m all about work. I think on the second week on the job.
Mayor Rothschild: I was cutting a ribbon and and I learned from doing that. There’s a value there that one you get out. You meet people you might otherwise not me you’re seeing people who are generally doing some good things and as mayor you’re being there even though it doesn’t seem like a lot to you is important to the people that you’re there for and so I’ve gotten pretty expert at that, but it’s a big part of the job the other part of the job and again, everything I’m telling you said what were you thinking? I wasn’t thinking any of this, but within a month or two is the kunda conduct of the council meetings, you really have to coordinate those you have to give everybody a fair chance to speak. You have to have sort of a it’s almost like a poker game.
Mayor Rothschild: You have to have a sense of where one person is going. So if you think maybe it ought to go another way, then you call the next person and those are those are stressful times every council meeting but it’s a big part of the mayor’s job.
Tom Heath: At the Transportation Museum, there’s a video of you, I think you’re just taking office or just been elected and they were bringing Southern Pacific is bringing in this big train. Yeah and Mayor Walkup was on there getting off and you guys had a ceremony handshake so Ken over there swears to this day says, he’s the one that helped transition you into office.
Mayor Rothschild: He did it. He did it. I didn’t take Bob’s Top Hat. I let him keep it. But he you know people forget which is I guess maybe it’s a good thing sometimes but you know in Bob’s first term in office in particular, he helped usher in the RTA, which has been so important to our region and he helped solve everybody forgets now, but we had a real CAP water problem just in mixing and delivering and Bob took on those two issues and and help solve them.
Tom Heath: But 2011. We don’t even have other than it may be a hint of A Streetcar at that point and you fast forward to your last state of the city speech the amount of Business Development not just from a for-profit, but from a non profit standpoint people that decided to stay it just it’s amazing in eight years.
Mayor Rothschild: Yeah. I mean II like to take credit for everything because I always get the blame for everything but the truth of the matter is that Took office in 2011. Literally the day I took office the TP building was open. Other than that all that wood had been rehabilitator worked on was the MacArthur building you’re mad and media is and all that’s happened in the last eight years, but it happened because people had been working for 20 years to set the stage for that and I just happened to hit a time with some effort because we did build the streetcar in that time.
Mayor Rothschild: We did put into effect for the first time here where they’ve been doing it around the state, the G-Plats, the government property lease tax rebates, and we were able to settle our differences with the Rio Nuevo District. And that was that was huge when I came into office. I set out as a task that I would make that work and I worked at it really hard and I wasn’t getting anywhere and ultimately I went to the legislature and we made some changes and we happened to get some very good people, Fletcher for one to be certain and Mark Irvin, and so it went from an adversarial relationship to a Cooperative relationship and those guys deserve about it’s all taxpayer money it has it’s still the same pot but they’ve done a really good job of allocating their share of that money.
Tom Heath: We are talking with Jonathan Rothschild, Mayor of Tucson for a couple more months and he’s kind of shared with us some highlights over his first eight years, when we come back we’ll find out how we’re doing on that metric of keeping young people here in Tucson, something that’s been a driving force in his Mayor term and what we can see from Mr. Rothschild when he is in the private sector.
Tom Heath: But I want to remind you that you are listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio.org. We are back to our interview with Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, we are going to finish up here with some talk about one of his main passions and that is keeping the young talent that graduates from the U of A, Pima College, etc. Keeping that young talent here in Tucson and how we’re doing on that track.
Tom Heath: You said one of your passions was create jobs, so that the people graduating our younger, next generation can stay in Tucson. It’s constantly a struggle, but where are we on that Spectrum?
Mayor Rothschild: So we’re we’ve done well, but you can always do better, Raytheon is adding incredible amount of jobs. Amazon came in and added jobs. Geico came in and added jobs. I could go through a list of probably 30 or 40 companies. Caterpillar was a major coup for us and now You know, we have the University of Arizona and I still believe that a lot of economic abilities are untapped there. So what I want to work on going forward is really creating a downtown Innovation District.
Mayor Rothschild: It’s happened all over the country in the cities that are successful. We are poised for that on October 11th. We’re bringing in mayor’s from three cities who have been successful doing that. We’re going to have somebody from tech stars or and have somebody from Aspen Institute resume from Brookings and and going to try to get all the right people in the room just to hear what that next step is for Tucson because we’re poised for it.
Mayor Rothschild: Our downtown is now in a place and not just our downtown but going north out from Pima, you know that area. Going Southeast what we call Millville which is sort of between the aviation and 22nd. There’s lots of opportunity for us as a community to become even more vibrant.
Tom Heath: When you said going forward to this is going to transcend your time at all.
Mayor Rothschild: Yeah, I don’t think I’m gonna get it done the next 80 days, but that’s what am I going to be one of my passions and one of the things I’m going to stay trying to keep people engaged with.
Tom Heath: The ideas of downtown Innovation District. Can you give an example of a city that’s doing it well?
Mayor Rothschild: Sure,the three cities that we think what the mayor of Pittsburgh did a great job st. Louis has a place called cortex and they did a great job Louisville it copied Pittsburgh and st. Louis and of Lee Greg Fischer will be coming in the other two mayor’s Pittsburgh and St. Louis are coming in and, But it’s so we want to hear from those folks as to how they did it. I can tell you from what I know. It is. So important that the universities are involved.
Mayor Rothschild: So in Pittsburgh, of course have Carnegie Mellon in St.Louis, they have wash you and say Louis you in Louisville. Probably not that different from Tucson. They have University of Louisville. So it’ll be very interesting to hear Louisville story and we will probably in some ways very similar to Tucson. So but it really is a community effort to say we’re going to focus getting our new businesses are our young entrepreneurs and Millennials into an area where they want to be they want to be where there’s public transportation.
Mayor Rothschild: They want to be where there’s arts and culture where there’s bars and nightlife where there’s music and they want to be in space where they can work together. It’s Different from the way I grew up, but that’s that’s the way it is. And so it’s going to take a concerted Community effort and we’ll see if we can get that done.
Tom Heath: It seems like all the pieces that you’re talking about are in place there. Maybe not just working in concert is that fair?
Mayor Rothschild: Yeah. I think the pieces are in place. Like I say, I think we are poised and I think it’s just a question of the community seen how ready we are, but it will take and believe me. I have these conversations every time I see him it will take the University of Arizona. It will take Pima College. It may take other schools coming in and we’re in in in that’s still a relatively untapped market for us too.
Mayor Rothschild: So, I mean, I think that if we stay on course we can you know, and there’s always these macro factors. I mean, you know, if the national economy takes a hit then you know Our goal will be to stay stable for those years. But if we can keep doing the things we’ve been doing and working together the way we have been I think we can take that next step.
Tom Heath: Well the conversation of keeping our young talent in Tucson has been coming up for years and it seems like every every episode that I do there’s some some connection connection to that but it all hinges on them getting that job that they can pay for the nightlife in the arts and culture and everything else. So we’re seeing a huge influx of employment which…
Mayor Rothschild: But I can tell you another funny story. So I go to the U of A pretty regularly, you know, I’ll get invited into a class to just talk for an hour. And so I went into a class one day probably 40 or 50 students and I said, you know, how many of you from Tucson a third of the people is how many from Phoenix, 30 people coming here from Chicago La the other third and I say how many of you are Planning on staying in Tucson after you graduate from college at about eight of the 50 raise your hand. and I say I know I’m talking to you that you know, you’re not staying here, you know, but I did talk to him. I came back to the office. I told that story to my staff and they said probably not the best approach. Next time, why don’t you ask why they’re not staying.
Mayor Rothschild: Huh? That’s that that makes some sense. So go next time class same thing 40 or 50 kids. How many of you stayed in to some maybe 12 or 13 raise our hand that’s progress It’s like a 50% in well, you know just having to be the class, but but I said to the rest I said tell me why you’re not staying Tucson. I know you love the U of A. I know it’s been a great experience. I know you love Tucson. Why are you leaving?
Mayor Rothschild: My family’s back East? I’ve got a girlfriend who lives in LA, you know, I just want to Adventure. I’ve lived here all my life. I just want to see more of the world and Now and then a kid would say, you know the job that I am trying to get qualified for it just isn’t here. So, you know, we hid ourselves on that, you know, we beat ourselves up a lot about that but there’s lots of reasons why especially young people leave and young people are coming from other places here. So you want to create that environment and at least what I’ve seen because I now have a 38 and 35 year old a lot of their friends left and now they’re coming back.
Tom Heath: That’s a big Trend or starting to see as well.
Mayor Rothschild: Yeah, you know, it’s like they went to New York and that was fun and adventurous and they made money but God dang it that’s a hard lifestyle and come back to Tucson and it’s really a cool place.
Tom Heath: It’s a lot cooler than when they left and that’s enough of it and excitement to keep them in the bills your easier to make it. Yeah sure are you know that that’s right. I mean you need to have that Synergy and we just need to keep building it. So the eight years in office, you’ve given a few interviews and talk to a few newspapers. What’s the story? What’s the is there a story that you would love to get out of the didn’t get enough coverage or something that you thought was under the radar that was a huge accomplishment or just through…
Mayor Rothschild: I don’t know why I don’t get above the fold every day, but I think I think you have to be a little more outrageous. But this is if people remember anything about my ears this what I want them to remember and I want to remember this going forward too.
Mayor Rothschild: In the last five years, we’ve passed three significant revenue enhancement measures: First, for our roads, then for our police and fire in our roads, and then for our Parks. We hadn’t done this in this community in anybody’s memory. The way we did it was we First of all, we came with very specific plans and we convince people that we would follow those plans. And by the way, we won the first vote by the landslide of I think 800 votes and by the second but we won by 6337 because we were able to say look we said we were going to do this and we did this and quite honestly, people should want to put their tax money locally because that’s where they can watch it most carefully, and that’s where they get the most benefit.
Mayor Rothschild: And that’s happened in communities around the country and it’s interesting a lot of Republican communities have done that because they feel like no we can watch our money here, we can see our money here. If I feel like the biggest accomplishment I’ve made is first of all getting trust back our local government. There’s always people are going to trust you. But you know putting trust back in our local government and proving it with those Revenue enhancers that by the way help everybody. I mean, you know, if you’re on a new road you think the town’s great and if you hit one of those bumpy roads, you don’t.
Mayor Rothschild: Getting the police and fire the stuff they needed cleaning up our Parks over the next UPS a nine-year thing that is going to transform this community with with lighted Fields all over the city with walking and biking paths. That’s that’s been the accomplishment.
Tom Heath: The day after election day, you’re going to get a phone call. Someone’s going to want to come and get an office here at the at the city hall and in shadow you around for a month. Yeah. What what’s that that mayor’s book? What’s that list of things that that you hand off to them?
Mayor Rothschild: I don’t know. They have much of a book, which I’ll try to kind of get him a little concerned that I’m actually looking forward and welcome whoever’s elected to spend that month with me just to see what I do every day. I think that would be really helpful. I I welcome that opportunity to help them as much as I can. I want to see the city continued for the most part on the course we are on. And so anything I can do to help guide them that direction. I’m more than happy to do.
Tom Heath: Doesn’t sound like Jonathan Rothschild is going to change his Focus to much out of office. But being a private citizen will certainly give him a little bit more flexibility and freedom, I think in what he wants to do and whether you’ve been a supporter or a detractor of Jonathan Rothschild one thing is for sure, Tucson has changed under his leadership. I Appreciate his eight years of dedication to Public Service.
Tom Heath: Well, my name is Tom Heath and you were listening to Life Along the Streetcar on Downtown Radio 99.1 FM and available for streaming on Downtown Radio.org. Well that will do it for episode 102 and I thank Mayor Rothschild for spending some time with us and giving us an insight into his eight years and what we can expect as he moves into the private sector.
Tom Heath: Coming up next week, we’ve got a special interview with a group called Pet Partners, they are doing a special event on Second Saturday in October. So we’ve got them coming in here to talk about their organization and a little bit about that event.
Tom Heath: And then later on in October, I got somereally cool things lined up! Busy, busy time here in Tucson. If you know of anything, we should be covering, give us a shout out. Shoot us an email [email protected] hit us up on Facebook Twitter, you know where to find us.
Tom Heath: We’re going to leave you today with music from Silver Cloud Express, your listening to the Bridge from 2018. My name is Tom Heath. Hope you have a great week and tune in next Sunday for more Life Along the Streetcar.