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TC3 Partners Approve Five Charter Change Recommendations

Sixty Tucson Charter Changer Coalition (TC3) partners on May 20 reached consensus on five city charter changes the coalition plans to ask the mayor and council to refer to the voters on this November’s ballot. More >>>

Public Meeting Shows Strong Support for Structural Changes in Tucson City Government

Approximately 200 Tucsonans expressed strong support for improving the way Tucson city government is structured at a meeting April 30 of the Tucson Charter Change Coalition (TC3).

A survey completed by the participants revealed:

In a test of two election changes the coalition members may also want to consider, the participants strongly supported having the mayor and council members run simultaneously every four years, and moving city elections to even-numbered years, when they would be combined with state and national elections.

The 200 participants, from diverse organizations and interests, met for three hours at the Tucson Convention Center. The highly advertised meeting was open to the public, free of charge.

Keynote presentations emphasizing the best practices in local government were given by two nationally recognized experts – John Nalbandian, a professor in the Department of Public Administration at the University of Kansas, and James Svara, a professor in the School of Public Affairs at Arizona State University and Director of the Center for Urban Innovation.

The participants asked questions of a panel consisting of the two experts and three local leaders – Lisa Lovallo, Jan Lesher and Steve Lynn – before breaking into small discussion groups and completing the participant and table survey forms. Harvard Professor Joe Kalt moderated the Q&A.

The next step: The coalition partners will meet next on May 20 to review the comments and survey results as they work to put proposed recommendations into final form. The recommendations then will be presented to the Tucson mayor and city council, with a request that the recommendations be referred to the November ballot. If the mayor and council agree, it will be necessary for coalition members to mount a vigorous campaign to win voter approval.

Participant Survey: Summary of Results

Question: In your opinion, how important is each of the four proposed charter changes? Please place the appropriate number in front of each recommendation:

4= Very Important. 3 = Important. 2 = Somewhat Important. 1 = Not Important.

Recommendation Weighted Average 4 3 2 1
Give the city manager the authority to hire and fire department heads 3.84 89% 6% 5% 0%
Mayor and council jobs should be full-time 3.53 66% 22% 8% 4%
City should have the ability to increase the number of wards as population increases 2.00 21% 15% 23% 41%
Mayor parity: same voting rights as council members 3.64 69% 25% 6% 0%

Ninety participants, approximately half of those attending, submitted participant surveys. All survey responses are available for review during regular business hours at the SALC offices, 4400 E. Broadway, Suite 307. Please phone to let us know you are coming: 520-327-7619.)

Note: 64 participants answered the question in the manner intended. Seventeen gave no answer; seven misinterpreted it to require rank ordering of the recommendations; two responses were not clear.


Participants were asked to characterize the discussion at their tables and to provide feedback, general and recommendation-specific, to the TC3.

Note: This is not an attempt to capture all the comments from participants. It is a list only of the suggestions they made for improving the recommendations.

Recommendation 1: Provide greater accountability for the city manager and department heads

Recommendation 2: Make the mayor and city council positions full time.

Recommendation 3: Provide for increasing the number of wards as population increases.

Recommendation 4: Create a stronger mayor—allow the mayor to vote on all issues.

Suggestions for other charter changes

Other comments or suggestions

participant responses on two possible election charter changes

From Participant Survey on April 30, 2010

Recommendation Yes No
Change the election cycle of the mayor and all council members to every four years (rather than having staggered elections every two years). 66% 34%
Combine city elections with state and national elections in even-numbered years. (The idea is that this would increase voter turnout.) 93% 7%


Input from March 26 meeting

Participants in the March 26 meeting were given two brief surveys. The first asked about the proposed charter changes; the second asked their willingness to be part of the coalition. The results are below.

Charter change recommendations (March 26, 2010)

The 103 participants were asked whether each of the four recommendations should be referred to the November ballot. These were gathered and tallied at each table after the table members discussed the recommendations. Of the 71 individual votes tallied:

Recommendation Yes No No Answer
Give the city manager the authority to hire and fire department heads 68 (96%) 3 (4%)  
Mayor and council jobs should be full-time 68 (96%) 3 (4%)  
City should have the ability to increase the number of wards as population increases 64 (90%) 7 (10%)  
Mayor parity: same voting rights as council members 66 (93%) 1 (1%) 4 (4%)

Interest in participation in the coalition (March 26, 2010)

These were individual surveys in the packet of information given to every participant. 61 surveys were returned out of the 103 people at the meeting.

Question Yes No Don't Know
No Answer
Was today's meeting informative and worthwhile? 58 (95%) 0 3 (5%)
Will you join us in this project and become a coalition partner?[1] 45 (74%) 2 (3%) 4 (7%)
Will you attend the meeting on April 30? 44 (72%) 4 (7%) 13 (21%)

[1] Respondents also were given the opportunity to ask for a meeting individually or for their organization before making a decision. 18 asked for more information. (The answers for this question don't add to 61 because of the people wanting more information and because some answers are duplicated.)