Happy holidays! I hope you and your loved ones are enjoying your holiday season; in whatever ways you celebrate. I always use this time to connect, recharge, and reflect. Here are some reflections on the work that my Team and I focused on at the City and in Ward 4 in 2021.
· In order to be accessible and communicative, we continued our monthly Ward 4 town halls. We met virtually the last Thursday of each month and alternated between neighborhood-specific town halls and City service town halls, which included parks and recreation, transportation and mobility, development services, and a budget conversation with the City Manager’s office. Thank you to all who attended this year!
· In January, I had the privilege of being appointed Vice Chair to the National League of Cities’ Military Communities Council for 2021. I am honored to serve in this role and provide strategic direction for federal advocacy that serves the people of Tucson and military communities across the country.
· In February, Tucson Parks and Recreation launched the Ready, Set, Rec! program to bring mobile recreation opportunities to residents of all ages throughout Tucson. This initiative was made possible through CARES Act Funds and the recommendation of my colleague, Ward 5 Council Member Richard Fimbres. Each ward has their own Ready, Set, Rec! van. Each one has brought opportunities for enrichment and exercise to hundreds of folks in our community.
· In March, Mayor and Council passed the CROWN Act, which I co-sponsored alongside Ward 6 Council Member Steve Kozachik. The CROWN Act, which stands for Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair, ensures protection against discrimination based on race-based hairstyles in the City of Tucson.
· In April, my office partnered with Tucson Clean & Beautiful, Trees for Tucson, and Tucson Parks and Recreation to host “Planting for the Future,” an Arbor Day celebration, at Lincoln Regional Park. Thanks to the help of our many volunteers and sponsors, we planted 62 trees in no time. These trees will provide shade, reduce erosion and irrigation costs, draw carbon out of the atmosphere, and provide many more benefits to our community for years to come.
· In July, my office brought back the annual Ward 4 Back to School Bash for its 20th year. Out of caution around COVID-19, we hosted the bash as a drive-thru. We successfully filled 750 backpacks with school supplies and distributed them to students in our community. A huge thank you to all the City staff, volunteers, and sponsors who made this year’s bash possible.
· In September, we installed a Peace Pole at the Ward 4 Office in celebration of International Day of Peace on September 21. The Ward 4 Peace Pole features the words “May Peace Prevail on Earth” in eight languages that represent the rich diversity of Tucson: English, Spanish, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, Swahili, Mandarin, and Tibetic. We placed a separate land dedication plaque to acknowledge the original inhabitants of the land, the Tohono O’odham. We held a dedication ceremony to dedicate the peace pole to the people of Tucson.
· In November, I launched the first City of Tucson employee resource group for Military Veteran City Employees, and after a year of implementation planning passed a SkillBridge partnership with the Department of Defense. This program assists military service members as they transition out of the military into civilian workforce. SkillBridge also has potential to help the City address staffing goals while we support our troops during their transition.
· In December, I was honored by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Arizona Daily Star as one of Tucson’s 40 Under 40 honorees. I can’t claim “under 40 much longer”, so it was a great way to end the year, and the decade of my 30s.
There was a lot of work in between these highlights, and I’m grateful that I had the privilege of doing it. Thank you for a great year, friends. Have a safe, happy new year and I’ll see you in 2022!