Somerton mayor shares South County perspective of pandemic with Senate candidate
TUCSON, Ariz. (KYMA, KECY) - Democratic Senate candidate Mark Kelly recently gathered mayors from some of Arizona's smaller cities for a discussion on the problems facing their communities during the coronavirus pandemic.
The panel of mayors included Somerton's Gerardo Anaya, Casa Grande's Craig McFarland, Tolleson's Anna Tovar, Flagstaff's Coral Evans, and Tempe's Mark Mitchell. All lead cities with less than 500,000 residents.
During the discussion it became clear, each city has a different perspective on the pandemic. Some struggle as suburbs of much larger municipalities. Others, like Somerton, face challenges based on their location.
"It's been tough because the Sonora side started real late as far as taking measures, so here on the U.S. side we were starting to we were taking precautions, but San Luis was waiting. It took them about a month." Mayor Anaya told the group.
Anaya also said he believes the rest of the state is moving at a different pace than the South County because it's dealing with different circumstances.
"So right now we're in the middle of a surge, and now the the state reopening, we are behind, so we're trying to work through that." said Anaya.
The mayor says cities like Somerton and San Luis use education to deal with the virus. He says it's important to take the time and make the effort to communicate with people, especially within the Spanish-speaking community, and let them know how to protect themselves, their families, and their businesses.
All of the mayors agreed, larger cities are seeing most of the funding coming to the state from the Federal Government. The amount paid depends on the population, so cities like Somerton and Casa Grande, get far less than cities like Phoenix or Tucson. None of the mayors were satisfied with the grant money they've received so far.
The meeting's host, Mark Kelly, is a former NASA space shuttle commander, and a retired Navy fighter pilot. He's running to fill the seat currently held by Republican Senator Martha McSally.
Sen. McSally has held a number of telephonic townhalls throughout the pandemic to inform and solicit input from her constituents.