Tucson’s latest budget included a $500,000 allocation for the creation of an Office of Equity to advance social justice and eliminate racism.

Mayor Regina Romero included news of the allocation in an announcement about the budget approval last Monday.

“The approved FY 21/22 budget represents a significant step forward in improving core services and quality of life for Tucsonans by supporting our economic recovery, investing in new strategies to promote community safety, and doubling the amount we are investing in local road repairs,” wrote Romero.

The equity office would fall under the city manager. The mayor and city council collaborated to create the Office of Equity, which will eventually have three program managers and an administrative specialist.

The city first posted a job opening for one of those positions, a chief equity officer, in February. The starting salary ranges from just nearly $81,000 to just over $143,000 a year. That posting closed at the end of May.

According to the job description, the chief equity officer would develop, implement, and support any local, state, or federal initiatives for diversity, inclusion, equity, social justice, and racism elimination; develop citywide performance indicators and progress benchmarks for equitable delivery of city services; as well as collect, analyze, and present data measuring the city’s progress on operationalizing equity.

The individual who drafted the framework for the Office of Equity and chief equity officer position was Andres Portela – he is also a candidate for city council. Portela is also involved in a progressive activism organization, Our Voice Our Vote, co-founded and run by Arizona House Minority Leader Reginald Bolding (D-Phoenix) and his wife.

Tucson’s Office of Equal Opportunity Programs (OEOP) was previously tasked with “implementing and enforcing equity policies” for the city. Following the publication of several opinion pieces pointing that fact out in The Arizona Daily Star, the city updated its webpage for OEOP to erase that phrase and all mentions of equity.

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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Arizona Sun Times and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to corinnejournalist@gmail.com.
Photo “Mayor Regina Romero” by Mayor Regina Romero.