KGUN 9NewsLocal Elections 2024


Tucson Mayor Candidate Wittenbraker plans to remedy crime, drugs, homelessness

See full interview below
Janet Wittenbraker.jpg
Posted at 6:52 PM, Oct 10, 2023

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Democrats have had a lock on the Tucson Mayor’s Office for the last 12 years but Janet Wittenbraker is a Republican hoping to take the office back for her party. KGUN9’s Craig Smith talked to Wittenbraker about what she hopes to change about Tucson if she takes the top job.

We’re talking to Tucson Mayor candidates all this week. We came here to Santa Rita Park at 3rd Avenue and 22nd Street to talk with Republican Mayor candidate Janet Wittenbraker. The park illustrates one of the things she wants to change if she becomes Mayor.”

Homeless people gather at Santa Rita Park. They’ve gathered there for many years. Janet Wittenbraker sees them as a daily reminder of why she’s running for Mayor of Tucson.

“My firm belief is our nation is in the shape it's in because we've given up on our city, one city at a time. We've allowed for the open borders, we've allowed for fentanyl to seep across our borders, and we've allowed for people to take over a park and not face their addictions.”

Full Interview with Mayoral Candidate Janet Wittenbraker

Tucson mayoral candidate: Janet Wittenbraker (R)

When we asked Wittenbraker for an example of any city that’s making progress on homelessness and addiction, she cited Nashville which she says combines treatment, with housing but also a work requirement. She says people in the program hold paying jobs with the city and work at least 20 hours a week.

Wittenbraker says rebuilding Tucson Police is an essential part of her plan. She sees short staffing and recruitment as consequences of low pay plus what she sees as a working atmosphere that makes police feel unwelcome and unsupported.

“And it was a direct result of city policies voted by the mayor, current mayor and council, the vaccine mandate, the Black Lives Matter sidewalk, the ruling against the Thin Blue Line. We had horrible attrition and that doesn't help with enforcing our laws.”

Wittenbraker says Federal policy has made our border with Mexico an open border. She wants to reject Federal money to operate shelters for migrants and if that leads to migrants on our streets, she has a suggestion to get them off our streets.

“I can certainly consider moving our migrants to sanctuary states. We are not a sanctuary state. We voted against that. Arizona is not a sanctuary state. And yet, we've created this pseudo sanctuary here in Tucson.”

She says she wants to help Tucson boom by restoring law and order, improving streets and creating regulations more friendly to business.

Wittenbraker knows in Tucson, the City Manager actually runs day to day government, based on policies the Mayor and Council order. She is a Republican and knows Tucsonans will have to elect other Republicans to City Council so she’ll have the votes to get her policies through.


Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.