City Election Questionnaire: Victoria Lem

Republican Victoria Lem is running for City Council in Ward 1. Due to a misunderstanding, she did not submit answers to the recent candidate survey used to create the series of stories on candidates’ positions which has been published over the past week. The Arizona Daily Star offered her the option of answering the survey questions in this form.1. What would be your top priority as City Council member / mayor?REDUCE CRIME: Fully fund and enable officers to enforce our laws & protect our community, clean up toxic inhumane encampments, fight the fentanyl/overdose crisis, work alongside proven and effective nonprofits in our community which offer housing, counseling and rehabilitation opportunities and a path to become productive citizens.ECONOMIC RESPONSIBILITY: Put a stop to current reckless spending and create an environment in Tucson where individuals and businesses can thrive and grow in our economy. Reducing unnecessary red tape.

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REBUILD OUR ROADS: Stop minor repairs & prioritize a budget that incorporates fully repaving roads in need. Without this, it is a non-starter in our efforts to attract high paying jobs to relocate to Tucson.2. What steps should the City of Tucson take to deal with rising housing costs in Tucson?As a REALTOR, I know the importance of having affordable housing in our community. First, we need to enhance our workforce by encouraging businesses to come to and stay in Tucson. By attracting well paying employment opportunities, and supporting credit & financial education, we can prepare and motivate more citizens to become homeowners.Encourage local credit unions and lenders to fund homeowners who would like to add a UDC. Create a catalog of builders, permitted plans, local credit unions/lenders, a process checklist, & create online education courses, all while reducing the requirements and permit fees associated which currently burden homeowners, reduce affordability and prevent actual builds. Adding UDCs will open affordable rentals as well as creating multi-generational housing options and/or a potential source of income for the homeowner. In addition, using a Six Sigma approach, I will focus on reduction of red tape and processing time with PDSD to improve efficient and expedient permit approval turnaround time for all builders but especially of multi-family homes. Also including a focus on case-by-case rezoning requests for city infill lots.3. What are your top priorities for transportation in Tucson? Are there any specific projects you think the city should focus on?REBUILD OUR ROADS: Stop making minor repairs to major potholes & prioritize a budget that incorporates fully repaving roads in need, which at this point is just about everywhere within the city limits. Whether you are in your own vehicle, biking, ride-sharing or using public transportation, we all need this valuable piece of infrastructure to work with us and not against us. Personally paying for damage caused to vehicles due to unavoidable potholes is not something I want our citizens and visitors to endure. Without this, it is a non-starter in our efforts to attract revenue from tourism and high paying jobs/businesses looking to relocate to Tucson. Making transit affordable does not equate to free, nothing is free. The cost to our community is taxpayer funded buses which currently offer open drug use, bus drivers who are assaulted, all while good hardworking people in our community that may have no other choice but still deserve to have a clean, affordable mode of transportation. I will return this back to our community.4. What do you think are the main challenges the Tucson Police Department is facing right now? How should the City Council help TPD overcome them?We are grossly understaffed per capita, the response to only priority 1 calls places the citizens, community, and the responding law enforcement officers in great danger. Currently, we are a community that does not value their law enforcement officers and we now face the issues we see today. Taking an officer off the street to process an arrestee for 2-3 hours, just to watch the individual they just arrested immediately walk right out the back door with reduced charges. They are limited and unable to serve as sworn when the council, attorneys and judges work directly against their efforts to bring safety to our community.Tucson MUST immediately prioritize hiring quality officers, decrease the wage gap from the surrounding areas and focus on diminished morale. We must never return to the previous Chief Magnus days of “apologizing first, blame the officer and find out what happened later” mode of operation. I will focus on returning enforcement of the law to the trained law enforcement officers and require district attorneys to uphold our laws and hold criminals accountable.Our law enforcement officers also need more balance in their work lives instead of forced overtime. Remember they are still real people who need rest, have families, and deserve to be treated with respect. I will ensure we, as a city council, appoint leadership based on proven respected and successful leadership, and not politically motivated hirings. Respect is earned through every rank and lost quickly when leadership doesn’t lead honorably while walking the walk alongside them.Although I have much to learn through continued communication with TPD, other strategies I would support would be to offer signing bonuses for extending contracts much like the military offers, develop employer assisted homeownership program incentives such as down payment/closing cost assistance which may incentivize our officers to stay and develop roots in our community. This could be by way of a five-year forgivable loan to stay with the employer for five years. It is clear we need to invest time, money, and resources to change direction immediately to create a safer community.5. What should the City of Tucson do to help Tucson’s economy?Through efforts such as reduction of crime, creating safer streets, improving infrastructure, repaving roads, and becoming more business friendly, we will attract business growth and higher paying jobs to our economy. Put a stop to current reckless spending and create an environment in Tucson where individuals and businesses can thrive and grow in our economy.Continuation of current partnerships and creation of new opportunities to collaborate with community colleges (PCC), JTED, and U of A to develop programs and courses which serve our current industries and upcoming job market growth. Encourage other schools to implement programs such as those at Sunnyside High and San Miguel with career based directional learning and encouraging employers to take on interns throughout the year. We need to provide a workforce readily available to those businesses that choose to call Tucson their home at graduation6. Tucson and the rest of the Southwest are dealing with a water crisis. How do you think the crisis will affect Tucsonans? What steps should the City of Tucson take to deal with it?Continue to enhance education, practice and focus on water conservation.7. What steps would you take to resolve the homelessness crisis in Tucson?As a lifelong volunteer in our community and as current President of the Tucson REALTORS Charitable Foundation, we are just one of hundreds of non-profits in the Tucson community who financially support housing initiatives. As a city council member, my focus would be on stopping the purchase of hotels that become havens for drug use, assaults and other crimes then redirecting efforts to those 501©(3) organizations that specialize in offering housing, rehabilitation, counseling and opening up job opportunities. We need to empower and employ the experts.8. Deaths related to fentanyl are on the rise in Tucson and around the country. What steps should the City of Tucson take to deal with the opioid crisis?Many families in our community have personally faced the opioid crisis with first-hand experience; unfortunately, mine is not absent from such heartaches. Cities who do not face this issue directly with strict enforcement, offering connections to programs for rehabilitation, and enable dealers, transportation of illegal drugs and use are part of the problem. We need to send a clear message to drug traffickers that Tucson has zero tolerance for them at any level and prosecute offenders swiftly. Enablement only makes things worse. Releasing criminal offenders while they are still high giving no opportunity to get clean in a safe and monitored environment, instead, we release with no hope, no resources all while the individual is ready for their next hit. We need to physically connect to each and every person in need to the available resources our nonprofits offer and help them find a pathway out and hope once again.9. If we see another spike in Covid-19 cases, how would you handle it?There are many lessons to be learned from the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and many of the mandated requirements stepped over individual rights and autonomy. The local response was to pick and choose which businesses, churches and schools were allowed to remain open and was focused on control rather than wisdom and personal liberties.10. What steps would you take to lessen the number of pedestrian deaths in Tucson?The increase in fentanyl and other illegal drug use in our communities has risen and has lead to more pedestrian deaths. We need to enforce our laws, works with non-profits in our community to offer treatment and rehabilitation as well as enforcing our laws to make an impact on this issue.

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