Supervisor, District 3 Pima County Board of Supervisors
In what ways has your organization had to “pivot” as the short-term impacts of the pandemic took hold?
As the regional public health agency, Pima County has the sole responsibility for implementing public health actions during the pandemic. This caused a substantial shift in resources and personnel to our public health agency. Our agency has been responsible for all testing, contract tracing and advisories, as well as, regulatory actions to minimize the spread of COVID-19. As a political subdivision of the state, Pima County cannot enact measures to prevent COVID-19 without the consent of the state. This is the primary reason the county enacted a mask-in-public mandate days after a governor’s executive order allowed such. The county is a public service organization and as such, delivers services through our essential workers. Even during the governor’s stay at home order, law enforcement continued to operate, the Pima County Adult Detention Center could not shut down. Transportation employees continued to maintain the roads and our wastewater employees continued to provide essential utility services. Most of our workforce would be classified as essential employees. One of the bigger challenges was continuing to provide these services, while also providing equipment, processes and procedures that minimized the risk of COVID-19 for our employees.
What trends are you experiencing in your own industry, across the US and globally, related to expected long-term impacts of the pandemic?
It is likely the long-term impacts will include increased remote or online working and a substantial shift in retail activity to online services.
From your business vantage point, what qualities put Tucson region in a position to recover quicker economically and more effectively than other regions?
The factors that will lead to a quicker economic recovery are related to how well the county has handled the pandemic, whether our actions are viewed by others as responsible, proactive and responsive to the medical needs of those infected with COVID-19. Pima County has received high marks for our COVID-19 response and earned a reputation as a proactive public health agency. In addition, our population size as a medium metropolitan area makes us attractive for relocations of employers and individuals from much larger areas as we have few natural disasters that affect the workforce and productivity. Our primary threats are from fire and floods. Fires occur mostly within the federal public lands surrounding Tucson and floods have been effectively managed through continued flood control investments. Finally, we have continued to plan and prepare for economic expansion through refining and advancing our Economic Development Master Plan in concert with Sun Corridor Inc. to train the workforce, provide shovel-ready locations for new or expanding employers and we continue to make directed infrastructure investment.
What are some of the attributes of Tucson that you personally enjoy?
We live and work in an ecological wonderland that I’m proud to have played a leading role in protecting over the past 20 years.