Paul's Note - February 12, 2021

Earlier this week, it looked like COVID-19 cases were trending down slightly, but this morning’s Arizona Department of Health Services numbers show new cases have increased again. 

This is why it is still important to take precautions: maintain social distance and wear a mask when you are in public. Also, if you are eligible, make an appointment to get a vaccination. 

If you are 70-years-old and up, prioritized essential workers, public safety, and teachers/educators/child care workers), you can register online. Help is also available in English and Spanish by calling (520) 222-0119 for those who are unable to make an online appointment. 

The city is working on a climate action plan and we want to hear from you. Your input will help create a roadmap to reduce emissions of heat-trapping greenhouse gases and respond to and prepare for the increasing impacts of climate change. The goal is to improve the city’s environmental and sustainability practices while increasing Tucsonan’s quality of life for decades. 

To participate in the Climate Action Community Survey, click here

As part of Black History Month, last week I told you about Morgan Maxwell and his civil rights work in our community. This week, I’d like to tell you about another Tucson leader who worked for equal opportunities, Ethel Maynard. 

Ethel was born in Waterbury, Connecticut but moved to Tucson with her husband just after the end of the Second World War. She got to work immediately as both a school nurse and an activist, becoming a leader in the Tucson Council for Civic Unity, a group that worked to end legal segregation in our city. 

She also recognized that just getting rid of those laws wasn’t enough. She worked with another group, the Tucson Committee for Economic Opportunity, to help end poverty in Tucson’s older neighborhoods in Downtown and on the West Side. 

She also was involved in local politics. She was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1956 and made a run for the Ward 1 city council seat. She didn’t win the primary, but got a smattering of write-in votes for mayor in the general election. 

Her true trail blazing moment came in 1966. She won a seat in the Arizona House of Representatives (serving as a seat mate to another legend, Etta Mae “Ma Hutch” Hutchison). This made her the first African-American in our legislature. 

Her work in the legislature included lifting restrictions on family planning, welfare reform, establishing emissions inspections for cars and working to give 18 year-olds the right to vote. She wasn’t always successful, like her fight to make sure that new freeways didn’t destroy minority neighborhoods, but she was a strong, ethical voice. 

She served as an inspiration the next generation of African American politicians, like Art Hamilton and Herschella Horton (one of only six African American women to follow Ethel into the legislature) and made Tucson better.