Conflict in District 2: Democrat Robert Robuck vs. Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez

Jennifer Eckstrom was surprised to become a target of criticism by Democrat Robert Robuck as he campaigns to become the next District 2 Pima County supervisor

The world of politics is nothing new for the 31-year-old mayor of South Tucson; after all, her father is legendary South Tucson politico Dan Eckstrom. However, she’s never been caught in the middle of such campaign mudslinging.

Robuck, who is taking on incumbent Ramon Valadez, alleges a conflict of interest: Eckstrom works a full-time job as Valadez’s executive assistant, and Robuck feels that too much money is making its way from Pima County into South Tucson’s coffers.

Robuck in particular questions the possible mismanagement of funds allocated to the John Valenzuela Youth Center, and the amount of flood-control dollars going toward South Tucson’s park-maintenance efforts.

At the recent Nucleus Club debate, Robuck highlighted Eckstrom’s job in Valadez’s office, comparing it to Robuck hiring his own wife to work as his executive assistant.

Eckstrom, sitting in a back corner table with other Valadez staffers, shot back, “I’m not married to him.”

Eckstrom, who was elected to the South Tucson City Council at the age of 18 (becoming the youngest elected official in Arizona history), said she looks back at the Nucleus Club debate and regrets responding to Robuck.

“It just came out,” Eckstrom said. “But if there was any conflict Continue reading


Nucleus Meltdown: A Not Quite LiveBlog of the Debate Between Democratic Candidates for the Pima County Board of Supervisors

Two incumbents on the Pima County Board of Supervisors, District 3’s Sharon Bronson and District 2’s Ramon Valadez, met their respective Democratic challengers, Donna Branch Gilby and Robert Robuck, at a meeting of the Pima County Democratic Party’s Nucleus Club last week. Supporters cheered and applauded; critics booed and hissed. Here’s a recap of the raucous caucus.

6:01 p.m.: Moderator Ash Silverberg introduces the candidates. Pima County Supervisor Ramon Valadez talks about growing up in Pima County and getting his start in politics when he interned for Dan Eckstrom, the previous District 2 supervisor and kingpin of southside politics. Valadez mentions that he also served in the Arizona Legislature and as an aide to Gov. Janet Napolitano. He says the county has made a lot of progress with conservation, sustainability and transportation. He gets big applause.

6:04 p.m.: Robert Robuck explains that he moved to Sahuarita from California because his wife grew up here. He says he got worried about local politics when he learned about plans to mine copper in the Santa Rita Mountains. Robuck decided to run for office when Valadez wouldn’t return his call regarding the mining proposal. He mentions that election integrity is a big issue in his campaign. The crowd goes wild with applause.

6:07 p.m.: Donna Branch-Gilby says she running against Bronson “because it was time to stop asking, stop lobbying, stop explaining about the necessity of really being sure we had an accurate election in a democracy and it was time to do something about it.”

Branch-Gilby gives props to Bronson for her work on the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan before calling Bronson “the leading obstructionist” on the election-integrity issue. She also complains that Continue reading