/ Modified mar 29, 2024 3:26 p.m.

The Buzz: A longtime City Council member steps down

Steve Kozachik has been a known quantity on the council for more than a decade. He now leaves for a job that mirrors his past career.

360 steve kozachik Tucson City Council member Steve Kozachik outside City Hall.
AZPM Staff
The Buzz

The Buzz for March 29, 2024

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Steve Kozachik is one of the Tucson City Council's longest-serving members. He was first elected in 2009 as a Republican, placing him in a tie with council member Richard Fimbres and only topped by Mayor Regina Romero–if you count her years as a council member and mayor.

He has routinely been known for being the member of the council who was often ready with questions in meetings and accessible to the public and the media.

Kozachik isn't retiring though. He's taking a job heading up construction of the new Mosaic Quarter Complex, a privately funded project on Pima County land.

"I started this conversation with [former Pima County Administrator] Chuck Huckleberry a few years ago, when Mosaic Quarter was just in the design phase and of course, Chuck is gone, but continue the conversation with Jan [Lesher], Carmine Debonis, and once the board of supervisors passed the vote a couple weeks ago and approved the lease for Mosaic thought the timing was perfect. I realize I'm part way through a term, but opportunities like this don't just fall off a tree every day. And this is really, I believe Mosaic is gonna be a transformational project, not just for Tucson and Southern Arizona, but just regionally. And so the opportunity to kind of get back in the drill of helping to manage a multi-sports complex is something that you just don't get every day."

Kozachik spent 32 years working for University of Arizona Athletics, ending up as an assistant athletic director and overseeing construction and renovation work. He said he oversaw the complete remodel of every room in McKale Center and major changes to the arena space in the building as well.

Steve Kozachik

From 2009 until late 2020, Kozachik held both jobs. On the council, he was known for asking a lot of questions.

"When I started, we were facing a $40 or $50 million deficit coming right out of the [Great] Recession. That was a necessary time to be laying out the spreadsheets and crunching the data and frankly, that was new at the council. Council members didn't come and open up spreadsheets and question staff about why are we spending dollars over here, is this duplicative and all of that. That is now a transformational sort of culture at the council."

That culture change is something Kozachik said he was proud to be a part of. He is also pleased with his office's work to serve individual constituent worries.

"What we are most proud of as a team is our constituent work. And that is someone's dog is barking at two o'clock in the morning. Or my trash didn't get picked up. That might sound like little stuff and it is in the big picture. But to call in and actually get an answer and a response and somebody who cares about your issue is a big deal to constituents."

Kozachik is also happy with his effort to find middle ground on issues in his ward.

"That's not easy stuff and people kind of looking from the outside wonder why was that so difficult? It's because everybody's got their own perspective and their own needs and their own desires. And so being able to, to craft public policy in a way that kind of where the concentric circles overlap, find that sweet spot in the middle again, not something that you do quickly and easily, but you spend time doing, I think from a personal standpoint though."

He is also proud to have gotten through projects that have personal appeal to him, like a partnership with ByFusion to take unrecyclable plastic and turn it into blocks for construction, which he says has kept 240 tons of plastic out of landfills in about a year and a half.

Plastic Waste One week's non-recyclable plastic waste donated to Steve Kozachik's pilot program by the University of Arizona Animal Care Department.
Steve Kozachik

There's also the closure of Tucson Greyhound Park.

"I'm kind of a critter guy. And so being able to play a role in shutting down Tucson Greyhound Park, and the animal abuse that went on out there is a thing of the past now. And so I'm happy to be a part of that."

Kozachik's term has about 19 months left. The window to apply to finish the term opens April 1. Those interested can apply through the City Clerk's office.

Applicants must have been an eligible elector in the city for three years and have lived in Ward Six for one year. While the city charter does not specify that a replacement has to be of the same party, the city council has said it intends to replace Kozachik with another Democrat.

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