When I walked into the council chamber on Wednesday night, the room was fuller than I had expected. For a moment, I tried to think if there was a particularly controversial item on the agenda that had attracted all that attention.
It was something much better: it was members of the Tucson-Pima County Women’s Commission there to accept a proclamation for Women in Government Day.
As many of you know, I grew up in a family where civic life and local affairs were important. The person who had the most to do with that was my grandmother, Lillian Fisher. Not only was she a judge herself, but she encouraged participation in local government by her husband, her children and her grandson. I was proud that she had the opportunity to swear me in when I made it to the city council.
The Women in Government Day was a sort of kick off for the Women in Government Awards that are given every year by the Tucson-Pima County Women’s Commission. Awardees have run the gamut of government roles in the last few years, from public defenders, to county IT workers to dog handlers at the courthouse. A recent Unsung Heroine award went to Kelly Nañez, the woman that runs the shop that maintains street signs for the City.
The awards will be given out on September 21 in a ceremony at the Tucson Convention Center. A list of nominees is not yet available, but I’ll make sure to post the nominees and winners after the ceremony. Women keep our city running, whether it’s my colleagues on the council, bus drivers or heads of departments. We owe them more than just one day of recognition.
Joan Kaye Cauthorn passed away this week. She was a friend to both me and my family, but more important to all of you, she was a major figure in Tucson for decades. She was a fundraiser for organizations like the Arizona Theater Company, Planned Parenthood, Chicanos Por La Causa and the Judaic Studies Center at the University of Arizona. She also was a driving force in politics, with both local and national candidates counting on her to help them get support for their campaigns.
She was a force of nature, and she’ll be missed.
I also received word that Jim Kuliesh passed away. Jim had been the head of the Alliance of Construction Trades and was a fierce advocate for contractors, but also for protecting consumers from being defrauded by fly-by-night operators. I got to see him in action shortly after I got on the council when he worked with us on a local first ordinance. My sincere condolences to his family.