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Tuscon mayoral primary raises Green Party profile in Arizona

by Damon Eris, published

With registered voters abandoning the Democratic and Republican parties statewide, the Green Party’s candidates for mayor of Tucson see an opening ahead of their primary election showdown late next month.

In June, Democratic party activists successfully purged all Republican party and Independent hopefuls from the ballot in this year’s mayoral election in Tucson, ensuring a two-party race between the Democrats and Greens, as reported here at AZIVNlate last month.  Following the Green Party’s first ever primary election for Tucson mayor in August, Democrat Jonathan Rothschild will square off against either Mary DeCamp or David Croteau in the election for the city’s highest office this coming November.  The city’s current mayor, Republican Robert Walkup, is not seeking re-election.

Last Friday, the two Greens sat down for the first in a series of candidate interviews with Christopher Conover and Andrea Kelly from Arizona Public Media.  The cordial discussion began with a consideration of what this primary means for the Green party.  Mary DeCamp, a teacher and lifelong activist originally from Nebraska, stressed its historic character.

“This is historical. This is the first city-wide election that the Green party has run,” said DeCamp. “We have only been in Pima County for 20 years. So we’re as young as some of our youngest voters . . . to offer a new way of approaching politics is very exciting,” she continued.  DeCamp stressed that she and her primary opponent David Croteau are good friends.  “We’re bringing the message to the public that politics can be civil, respectful, engaging and fun,” she concluded.

David Croteau, a self-employed craftsman and also a longtime activist, stressed that voters are clearly looking for real alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans.

“I believe that the two-party system is broken,” he said.  “The largest voting increase seems to be in Independents, and that suggests to me that the two major parties aren’t giving choices that people are willing to stick with,” he continued.

Croteau’s position is bolstered by new voters' registration numbers released by the Arizona Secretary of State earlier this week.  Between April and July, registration numbers for the Republican and Democratic parties continued their downward slide as more Arizonans opted to register or re-register as Independents.  Republicans remain the majority, with 35.46% of registered voters.  They are followed by voters registered as “Other”, at 32.5% of the total.  Just 31.1% are registered as Democrats.  Green party registration numbers increased, but they remain the smallest officially recognized party in Arizona, with 0.16% of the state’s registered voters.

The numbers are slightly different in Pima County which leans Democratic, though registration in the major parties has noticeably fallen since 2010.  38% of Pima County voters are Democrat, 31% are Republicans and 30% are Independents.

On the issues, both DeCamp and Coteau stress sustainability and quality of life.  DeCamp urged the growth of small local business and argues against bringing in large corporations to spur job growth.

“The jobs we've gotten from corporations have been low wage work without benefits, and have not enriched our population. They've exploited our workers and siphoned off profits that are sent out of state,” she said in the interview. Coteau, on the other hand, called for the development of the city’s water resources and said he would re-prioritize police resources away from the war on drugs, particularly marijuana, and toward crimes against people and property.

Both candidates have previously run for local office in Tucson.  DeCamp was a candidate for city council in 2009, when she garnered 6% of the vote.  Croteau received 28% of the vote when he ran for mayor in 2007.

For more information on the Greens, see Mary DeCamp’s campaign site and David Croteau’s Facebook page.