Paul's Note - January 20, 2023


I was very sad to hear that Ann Nichols, who taught at the ASU school of social work here in Tucson and was an activist for a number of causes, passed away this week.

I barely knew Ann when her late husband and my father shared an office in the Capitol while serving in the legislature. I got to know her and the family after that. It wasn’t long before Ann suggested that I pursue my Masters degree. I was never a very good student, and I always figured a graduate degree would never be within my reach. She never doubted me and encouraged me from day one. On my worst days, when self doubt entered my mind, she was there to remind me I could do it.  I received my Masters and I knew it was her words of approval that got me there.

She was unrelenting in her advocacy especially for those no one else would advocate for. Tucson has lost a treasure to our community.  My condolences to Cathy, Michael and Miles. May Ann's memory be a blessing.


It can be tough to ask small businesses to be environmentally responsible. We usually think of larger businesses who have the resources to switch methods and materials, but it’s harder to ask a mom-and-pop operation to change. In a lot of cases, they might not even have the connections or knowledge to make those changes.

A few years ago, the council tasked a local non-profit called SERI to do outreach on water programs. Tucson Water had some great conservation incentives, but we realized that many of our working class residents were unaware of these incentives. SERI has made those programs accessible to thousands of our neighbors and made those efforts far more effective.

Now SERI, in cooperation with the Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health and El Rio Health Center, is working to reduce the exposure to VOCs in workplaces, particularly beauty salons and auto shops.

VOCs are volatile organic compounds. VOCs have been used in everything from paints to industrial solvents. They are one of the most common contaminants in groundwater, as those of us here in Tucson have learned all too well over the course of the past four decades.

SERI is offering both information and incentives to owners of these businesses. Through their  program they aim to support the health of workers and business owners and help eliminate health disparities in our community. The program is free.

After the twelve month program, not only will there be cleaner air in your workplace for you, your employees and families, they are also offering up to $300 in supplies to reduce/eliminate VOCs in your workplace and up to $50 for each of your employees. They are also offering employee health screenings and other follow up.

To join the program or if you would like more information, please contact Flor Sandoval at (520) 404-7369 or You can also visit