Chuck Huckleberry for President
April 16, 2019
By Craig J. Cantoni
Deservedly or undeservedly, Pima County Administrator Chuck Huckleberry is blamed in some quarters for the terrible condition of county roads.
Whatever the facts, he should run for president. After all, he is a better politician than the Democrat mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Pete Buttigieg, who has announced his run for the presidency.
Buttigieg takes pride in filling 365,000 potholes since taking office in 2012, including more than 22,000 last year. He’s also proud of tearing down or renovating 1,000 blighted buildings in South Bend in 1,000 days.
By contrast, potholes have remained unfilled in Pima County for years. Yet Huckleberry has been in his job for two decades, or almost three times longer than the average tenure of seven years for county managers (and city managers).
This suggests that Huckleberry has outstanding political skills, probably even better than Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton combined. He has not only kept his job in spite of the potholes but also in spite of weeds in medians, litter and illegal signs along public rights-of-way, and the shabby condition of parks.
These conditions signal to rich companies and their wealthy executives not to move their headquarters and/or other high-wage offices to a metropolis that smacks of bad government.
Other signals are the blighted buildings in the City of Tucson.
The county and city might as well erect billboards along I-10 that say, Take your business to Scottsdale, Austin, and Dallas.
It’s no mystery why Pima County has a median household income below the national average and why the City of Tucson has a poverty rate that is twice the national average. The reasons are in plain sight. Just drive the potholed streets and look around.
Given his political skills, Huckleberry would beat Buttigieg in the presidential primaries. That would make Buttigieg available to be the Pima County administrator or to run for mayor of Tucson—a win-win for everyone.
Even with his political skills, Huckleberry would need a winning campaign slogan. In 1928, Herbert Hoover had the slogan, “A chicken in every pot.” But Huckleberry won’t win national office with the slogan, A pothole in every street. That’s only a winner in Pima County.
Mr. Cantoni is a co-founder of the nonpartisan Tucson Advisory Group, which has the mission of reducing local poverty by increasing local prosperity.