Paul's Note - December 18, 2020

Early next year, the city will be losing one of its most dedicated and conscientious public servants. 

Albert Elías will be retiring after a decades long career with the City of Tucson. He first joined city staff as a planner in 1984. By 1996, he was Administrator in the Transportation Department and continued to move up the ladder with the city. He wore a lot of hats over the following years with the city, but his passion was always planning. He became Assistant City Manager in 2012, so he’s been serving most of the time I’ve been on the council. 

His responsibilities include a diverse array of departments, including some of our largest: Water (where he also served as Interim Director), Parks and Recreation, and Transportation. He’s also overseen the city’s bond programs, Regional Transportation Authority projects, and much of the planning work that led to the revitalization of downtown. 

My office has been working with him on another complex issue – the preservation and revitalization of the historic properties at Ft. Lowell Park. It’s a project that involves not just city government, but other stakeholders like Pima County and neighborhood groups. His knowledge and experience have been invaluable as we work to sort out the best possible solution. 

It isn’t just knowing how one department or another works that makes Albert such a valuable and unique member of our city. It’s also his strong love for our community. His family has been in Tucson since the 18th Century and his commitment to our community has always been clear.That strong love comes from his family His roots run deep here, going back all the way to the 18th Century. 

I hope Albert and his wife Sarah enjoys his retirement and they have a lot of time to hike. Our city will miss his quiet wisdom, but I have a feeling that his service to our community is not over. 

Expect something new at your local park: a mobile recreation van. 

Because of COVID-19, our recreation centers have been closed. Although our parks have remained open for many uses, this means a lot of organized recreation has been curtailed. 

Recreation vans have been used in other cities for over a decade and we’re excited to be starting the program here as part of our CARES Act funding. Each Ward will have their own van, full of equipment for sports activities, board games, yoga, and more. You and your neighbors will have the chance to get out of the house for safe and fun outdoor (and for the time being, socially distanced) activities at your park. 

Eventually, we can use the vans at other public locations such as schools and libraries. Some cities have been using these vans to run programs in parks that are too small for permanent recreation facilities, and I hope we have the ability to do that, too.  

I’ll keep a schedule online of van locations when the program starts. I also welcome your input on possible locations and activities. 

The Mayor and Tucson City Council and the Office of Economic Initiatives (ConnectTucson) will host seven virtual meetings in January to engage the community in co-creating a shared vision for the future of the Central Business District (CBD). Arizona statute ARS § 42-6209(c) grants the City of Tucson authority to abate property tax for up to eight years if a property is located within a designated CBD and meets other specific criteria that would improve the property for economic development purposes. The 90-minute meetings will inform the Mayor and Council about the future of the CBD boundaries and requirements for the Government Property Lease Excise Tax (GPLET). Register for a session by going to

The local Red Cross and my office sponsored a blood drive at Udall Park earlier this month. This is the second time we’ve done this since the COVID emergency. People had to schedule an appointment before arriving, and just like last time, I was worried that we wouldn’t have a good showing. 

For the second time, you and your neighbors came through. We had 13 present to give and of those 13, we were able to collect 12 pints of blood. My staff has reached out to the Red Cross and we hope to be able to host an event again in February.