TUCSON, Ariz. — At the El Rio Neighborhood Center Saturday a public forum was held for Ward one and democratic mayoral candidates to discuss gentrification and their plans for their communities.
Gentrification is the process of renovating deteriorating neighborhoods, which usually results in more middle class residents moving in. People argue this removes current residents from their homes because they may no longer be able to afford it.
The hosts for this forum were the Barrio Hollywood Neighborhood Association, Barrio Neighborhood Coalition, Casa Maria Catholic Worker House, Dunbar/Spring Neighborhood Association, Menlo Park Neighborhood Association, and Nuestro Barrio de Santa Rita Park/West Ochoa N.A.
They said gentrification is a growing problem in the Tucson community and hoped, by having this forum, they can show the candidates community members are serious about trying to solve this issue.
"The community is invested in this issue, as you can see, there are, I think, at least 200 people here, so that really shows a lot of interest," Vice President of the Barrio Neighborhood Coalition Raul Ramirez said.
The candidates running for Ward one all agreed, helping displaced families is an important part of the position they're running for.
"We should continue to grow, and we need to figure out how to do that without displacing our community," Ward one candidate Lane Santa Cruz said.
"It's not acceptable for families that have lived in our beautiful barrios for generations to feel left out of the cities vision of prosperity," Ward one candidate Miguel Ortega said.
"The problems that I've seen recently are those conversations (about gentrification) aren't happening, and we need to do a better job of engaging the audience," Ward one candidate Rob Elias said.
"When it comes to building big housing projects, that has to include a percentage, a decent percentage of affordable housing in it," Ward one candidate Sami Hamed said.
The Mayoral candidates debated after to share their thoughts.
"To make sure they we are helping families that are being threaten by displacement, by eviction or foreclosure," Mayoral candidate Regina Romero said.
"The most important body of government in our city is the neighborhoods. We do not sacrifice the ability of people to stay in the neighborhoods they grew up in, while we grow," Mayoral candidate Steve Farley said.
"We need to balance our growth with maintaining our character and culture," Mayoral candidate Randi Dorman said.
Mayoral candidate Ed Ackerley was also present, but didn't debate, since he is running as an independent and doesn't have a primary.
The primary election will be on August 27th.