Answers from Regina Romero

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

One of my top priorities as Mayor will be to develop a climate action plan that will include the below strategies:

  • A central pillar of my platform is my commitment to make transit reliable, affordable and electric. Our fleet is a mix of CNG, biodiesel and hybrid buses, hybrid cars, traditional gasoline cars and trucks, and we are bringing our first electric bus to Tucson soon. However, we need to be more aggressive in purchasing electric vehicles by setting a goal of having a 90% electric fleet by 2032.
  • We also need to enhance our transit system and consider making transit free in order to get people out of their cars and into our buses and streetcar. I will work to expand our Frequent Transit Network (FTN) beyond the current 11 routes to make transit a convenient and comfortable option for Tucsonans, especially in the urban core.
  • I also led on the City’s recently established Complete Streets policy to make our roads less car-centric, and more safe and accessible to bicyclists and pedestrians through bike path and sidewalk improvements. 
  • I will see to it that we install hundreds more solar panels on City properties, and come up with innovative ways to reduce Tucson Water’s electricity use. 
  • By acting aggressively and immediately, I believe we can be carbon neutral as a City by 2050, if not earlier. 


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

A huge part of my plan to address the effects of climate change is a massive tree planting program.  I have represented the hottest parts of town for 11 years and I know how climate change and the urban heat island effect impact neighborhoods.  I want to cool our city with 1 million new trees by 2030 - doubling our tree canopy.  

In addition, a smart and sustainable City will make better use of rain and stormwater to reduce flooding and recharge our aquifers, while reducing outdoor water use, calming traffic and beautifying neighborhoods. In 2015, I introduced Tucson Water’s popular neighborhood stormwater program that allows neighborhoods to get together to combat flooding while planting trees fed by rain and stormwater. Locals know their neighborhoods best and have been using this program to bring together multiple benefits into their projects such as traffic calming, shade tree planting and beautification.

Tucson has planned well for our continued drought and I have been a champion of our conservation efforts, including the Water Service Area Policy (WSAP) which secures our future water supply while concentrating development inside the city and protecting open spaces like Tumamoc Hill and the Painted Hills.


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

We need a Green Infrastructure Fund (GIF) that can plant and maintain trees and traffic features like chicanes, restore washes, work with neighborhoods on local stormwater and planting projects, enforce our commercial rainwater harvesting ordinance, as well as continue to administer our successful rainwater harvesting and greywater programs. The GIF will also be available to enhance existing projects with planted elements that will beautify our City and help cool it.

We also need to consider focusing more Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) dollars on energy retrofit programs for eligible homes and businesses. By focusing on low-income areas where the housing stock is often aging, these programs will reduce total electricity use in Tucson while creating a permanent financial benefit for Tucson home and business owners. We should also be incorporating CDBG dollars into existing park and transportation projects.


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

The best way a Mayor can do this is by leading by example and acting boldly. We simply cannot afford to act incrementally on an issue that threatens our very existence. I believe that by setting bold goals, and taking immediate action to reach those goals, we can set an example for other cities to follow. Here are some of the goals I’d like to set us on a path to accomplish if elected Mayor:

  • Plant 1 million trees citywide by 2030
  • 90% electric City bus and vehicle fleet by 2032
  • 100% carbon neutrality by 2050, 50% by 2030

 

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

Absolutely! When I am not at my Council office, I am working at my second job as the Director of Latino Engagement at the Center for Biological Diversity, a national organization dedicated to the preservation of our public lands, wildlife, and environment. I am also proud to have the endorsement of the Sierra Club Grand Canyon Chapter. This is an issue I am very passionate about and am always excited to discuss with other like-minded individuals. 


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 would support any measure that takes bold action to reduce both our City, state, and/or nation’s contribution to climate change.

© Tucson/Oro Valley Chapter Citizens' Climate Lobby 2018