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Tucson mayoral candidates all oppose ‘sanctuary city’ initiative

(Facebook Photo/City of Tucson, Arizona)

TUCSON, Ariz. – The three Democratic candidates for mayor said they do not support a ballot initiative that would make Tucson the state’s first “sanctuary city.”

The candidates discussed the issue during their first debate Thursday.

The initiative aims to add protections for people living in the U.S. illegally, including preventing Tucson police from asking about immigration status and prohibiting certain cooperation between city and federal agencies.

Former state Sen. Steve Farley, City Council member Regina Romero and real estate developer Randi Dorman cited concerns about the proposal headed to the November ballot.

Farley said the city needs to welcome immigrants, but the initiative could present problems. “The very people we’re trying to help could end up being hurt,” he said. “This is a very difficult climate. We’ve seen polarization in this country and political violence in this country.”

If voters approve the initiative, the state Legislature could penalize the city and take away millions of dollars in annual state-shared revenue, Romero said.

Dorman said she would rather work with the police department to address the issue. “If the initiative passes, that is the will of the people and we have to manage that,” Dorman said. “If the state interferes, we will have to use legal defense and creative ways to maintain our state-shared revenue.”

Independent candidate Ed Ackerley, a co-owner of an advertising agency, said he also opposes the initiative, citing its polarizing nature and long term problems.

No Republicans are running for mayor. The candidate who wins the Democratic nomination next month will face Ackerley in the November election.

The Pima County Republican Party has filed a lawsuit challenging the validity of the signatures submitted to get the initiative on the ballot.

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