High on the tenth floor of the City Hall building, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild greets us with a welcoming smile. He opts to have our meeting in a conference room instead of his spacious office – sitting “around the table” with us as opposed to behind his desk. This choice is indicative of his demeanor – approachable, unpretentious.
A Tucson native, Rothschild is clearly at home in our city. He’s watched Tucson bloom and blossom from 50,000 people (around the time of his birth) to 300,000 (when he was a teenager) to its current status as the 31st largest city in the USA. As such, he’s seen the positives of that expansion and witnessed the growing pains. He says he has a “great nostalgia for what we were,” but is also enthusiastic about the city’s promising future.
Rothschild is quick to point out the benefits of Tucson living – “great culture, great weather, great outdoor activities.” When asked what other city he would choose to live in, he laughed and answered with honest joy, “I would live nowhere but Tucson.” Even so, he was quick to praise the merits of similar-sized cities like Austin, Portland, and Denver and said that “a lot can be learned” from their progress.
He agreed with us that the “restaurant scene in downtown Tucson is top-notch,” but also noted that Downtown Tucson has plenty of room for continued improvement. Most notably, we need to draw in “market rate housing” and a downtown grocery store (“a priority that we’re working on“). He’d also like to see more cultural venues and hotels to draw in travelers.
A lawyer for many years, he says he doesn’t “miss” being in the courtroom because he really enjoys the current work he is doing. Still, he is proud of his work in the legal field. “If done correctly, [law] is a very honorable profession and you can do a lot of good.” Apparently, his kids think so too. All three of them are practicing or pursuing law.
Ever wondered what the Mayor does exactly? Rothschild says his role breaks down to three main branches: presiding over the council, acting as a spokesperson for the community, and representing the community at a lot of events (aka recognizing the good that people are doing). He is especially proud of the work he and his department have done to stimulate statewide conversations about improving relations with Mexico.
An avid reader, Rothschild is passionate about literacy and remarked about how important it is that kids read. The Mayor’s Reading Challenge is currently open to all kids and adults citywide.
Also launching this fall is an initiative to plant 10,000 trees around Tucson for added shade and enjoyment. Click on the link to find out how you can plant trees at your home or business for as little as $8/tree.
AT A GLANCE
- Birthplace: Tucson
- Education: Canyon del Oro High School, Kenyon College and the University of New Mexico Law School
- Married: for 34 years to his wife Karen
- Number of Children: Three – ages 32, 29, 21
- Previous Career: Lawyer
- Favorite Tucson Restaurants: Cafe Poca Cosa, HUB, The Social House, any local restaurant
- Favorite Tucson Parks: Himmel Park, Reid Park, “pocket parks” in neighborhoods
- Favorite Tucson bookstore or library: Main Library in Downtown Tucson
- Tucson Nonprofits he supports: Casa de los Ninos, Handmaker Services for the Aging, Temple Emanu-El
- Term expires: December 2015