Answers from Randi Dorman


Thank you for providing this chance to elaborate on these most important issues related to our survival in the Southwest as the climate changes in our region and globally. As a mom, a developer of urban infill projects and a concerned citizen of Tucson, the decisions our leaders make for our community need to provide for a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations. Living lightly on the land is a critical component of sustaining life on planet Earth. Population has intensified since the industrial revolution, and with this human expansion there is less natural habitat and more carbon dioxide in the atmosphere that is changing our climate and world in negative ways. NASA compares our atmosphere to the thickness of saran wrap on a basketball and yet humans keep filling up this finite space with more and more greenhouse trapping gas that can remain for thousands of years. You can download my complete plan for sustainability at

1. How do you propose moving Tucson towards zero carbon emissions?

In order to combat climate change and protect our environment we must look at both the way we live and where we live in earnest. The EPA compared energy use of a conventional suburban development to a more compact transit oriented design and concluded that the occupants of transit oriented design consumed 50% less energy simply by living in an urban location with convenient access to transit. This “Passive first, Active Later” approach to creating location efficiency with density has been in place for many millennia and is now, more than ever, needed in our cities. The opportunity is ripe for Tucson to partially combat excessive CO2 emissions with responsible urban density.

Climate change has and will have a profound effect on our city. While individual actions to reduce our impact on the environment are helpful, real gains can be made through managing where and how we live. In my developments we incorporate sustainable practices in every project we do; I will fight for the City of Tucson to do the same as follows:

  • Promote infill density in the core and along the corridors and repurpose old buildings through simplified zoning with incentives to encourage this Smart Growth in our city.
  • Provide a variety of clean transportation options. We must plan for an expansion of not only our Modern Streetcar, but other aspects of our public transit system so we are shovel ready when federal infrastructure funds are available. Implementing the City of Tucson Complete Streets initiative will also ensure there are options for pedestrians and bicyclists.
  • Expand the city’s current Healthy Homes program to include renovation costs to make homes more energy efficient.
  • Work with Tucson Water to change the rainwater harvesting match incentive to be on a sliding scale based on income.
  • Work with the city and TEP to provide trees for no or low cost, and explore pairing rainwater harvesting and tree planting incentives, especially in lower income neighborhoods.
  • Pressure TEP to get even more of its energy from renewable sources
  • Migrate our bus and city vehicle fleet to electric.

2. How should Tucson adapt to a hotter, drier climate that scientists predict for the Southwest?

Many of my plans are listed above. Specifically related to adapting to a hotter, drier climate I plan to do the following:

  • Adapt existing incentives like the Rainwater Harvesting match and the Healthy Homes program to make them more accessible for lower income residents to use them to mitigate the impact of and prevent climate change.
  • Creating walkable and bike-able cities and better public transportation for all to use creates more accessibility for those without a car while enabling others to choose to not use a car.
  • Continuing the Mayor’s 10,000 trees initiative and expanding it to further help plant trees that are vital to CO2 reduction. This provides shade, minimizes heat island effects, and can pair well with passive rainwater harvesting.
  • Advocate for a building code that requires high albedo (cooling white) roof surfaces for new construction and remodels.
  • Expand the DTP Connects program to other parts of the city and work with all of the non-profits serving the homeless community. It is not compassionate to let people sleep in the elements, especially in extreme heat.

3. Adapting to climate change is going to be expensive. Where do you see that money coming from?

Many of the solutions I outlined in Question 1, such as making infill and repurposing old buildings easier to do, and working with TEP on trees, sourcing from renewables and installing electric car infrastructure, require no monetary outlay from the city. Others will require builders to choose sustainable materials, like cooling, high albedo roofs, but won’t necessarily be more expensive. Ideas like migrating our bus fleet to electric should be cost neutral once increased purchase costs are balanced with diminished operations and maintenance costs, and I plan for the expansion of the street car route to be largely funded with federal infrastructure funds. For the ideas that will require additional expenditure from the city, city government is responsible for keeping its citizens safe and our greatest security threat in Tucson is climate change, so I would explore shifting funds from non-essential services and transition funds for essential funds to climate change mitigation when necessary.

4. What role do you think the mayor should play in encouraging Arizona and the nation to embrace a zero-emissions policy?

The Mayor of Tucson should use her platform to make it known that Tucson is on the forefront of the climate change war, and we are the leaders in innovative and effective climate change solutions. We need to be the solar and water conservation capital. Who better to amplify that message than Tucson’s first female Mayor who has been creating sustainable development for 20 years that reduce consumption of non-renewable resources, minimizes waste and creates healthy, productive environments in urban areas.

5. Would you be interested in participating in a panel discussion on local adaptation strategies and solutions to limit emissions?

YES! We need more dialogue and ultimately action to better our future outcome.

6. The City of Tucson passed a resolution unanimously supporting Carbon Fee and Dividend in 2017. Would you endorse a similar bill, HR 763, that is now in Congress?

Yes. I think it is a good first step in addressing climate change. 

© Tucson/Oro Valley Chapter Citizens' Climate Lobby 2018