Meet Paul Cunningham
Paul Cunningham is a native Arizonan and longtime community activist with 22 years of professional and volunteer public service. He is the son of former State Senator George Cunningham and lifelong Tucson advocate Margie Cunningham.
Cunningham started his career at the Ott Family YMCA located in Ward 2. He is a 12-year veteran of the Pima County Juvenile Probation Department, and served in the Army Reserve and National Guard from 1993-2001.
A 1992 graduate of Rincon High School, Paul has a B.A. in History from the University of Arizona and a Master's Degree from ASU. Councilmember Cunningham served on the Arizona Juvenile Justice Commission, the Correction Officer Retirement Local Board, has been active in volunteering with Youth on their Own, Our Family, the Pima County Probation Officers Association, National Youth Sports, the YMCA, Friends of the Library, and the Community Prevention Coalition. He and several youth founded “TEAM Tucson” (teen empowerment and advocacy movement) in 2005. He also authored a youth empowerment program, known as the “Hoop Dreams: Control Your Destiny” curriculum. He is the former president of the EL GHEKO neighborhood association.
Since being sworn into office in, Councilmember Cunningham championed preseason professional soccer as an economic development engine for Tucson. In the past two years, ties with Major League Soccer have grown and the league considers Tucson its “Western Hub.”
Councilmember Cunningham is committed to safeguarding Tucson’s greatest asset – our water supply. He championed our current water service area policy and advocated for rainwater harvesting rebates. He firmly believes that policies like these are the only way to ensure the long term viability of both our community and the precious desert we live in.
Paul was sworn in as a councilmember by his Grandmother, retired Superior Court Judge Lillian Fisher, on May 11, 2010. He was elected to a full term in November of 2011. On April 8, 2014, Paul was selected by his colleagues to be Vice Mayor. He served in that position until December of 2014. Cunningham was re-elected in 2015 where he led efforts to accelerate road construction projects in Tucson and on the Eastside. Since his first election, every major corridor in Ward 2 has had a varying degree of road repair, culminating with the East Broadway stretch at the end of 2018. In 2017, he organized the re-conditioning of Jesse Owens park. The project was completed in late 2018 and has served as a template for the improvement of other parks throughout Tucson. Cunningham also led an effort to simplify bus fares, in this past year, as Tucson’s economy grew 7% and the City Budget incurred a fund balance surplus for the first time in a decade. Cunningham also led the Council in adopting a pay adjustment for police to improve retention of officers in the department.
Paul is married to Alisa and has three sons. He currently teaches at Apollo Middle School in the Sunnyside School District.
Approachable, compassionate and effective
“While I’ve been on the council, Tucson has balanced its budget and has worked its way out of the economic downturn. Let’s finish the job.” - Paul Cunningham
When Paul Cunningham first got on the City Council, 85% of our corridor roads rated as failing. As of 2018, that number is below 20%. This is despite the continued neglect of our city’s needs by our state legislature. Under Paul Cunningham’s leadership, every major corridor in Ward 2 has received a substantial capital investment in the past 5 years. As your councilman, Paul advocated for new bond money and sales tax money for a continued reinvestment in our streets.
Paul Cunningham is the champion of parks on the City Council. Through his dogged leadership, public pools are now free for kids. Paul was instrumental in the recent improvements made to long neglected Jesse Owens and Palo Verde parks. In the past 5 years, every park in Ward 2 has seen significant improvements.
As Tucson continues to make its fiscal recovery, Paul Cunningham has used his leadership and knowledge to find other sources of money to pay for park improvements, such as splash pads and covered basketball courts.
Paul Cunningham is a classroom teacher, so he sees the needs of our city’s youth every day. He volunteers as an instructor with the YARDS program and as a basketball coach at local camps. As a council member, he will continue to look for ways to strengthen and expand programs like KIDCO and look for new ways to ensure the health and wellness of our youngest citizens.
A Stronger Economy
Paul Cunningham has been a leader on economic development issues on the City Council. Tucson has added 30,000 jobs in the past 5 years. Paul fought for the Aerospace Corridor and worked to bring professional soccer to Tucson, attracting good-paying jobs and much needed tourism dollars.
As a native Tucsonan, Paul Cunningham knows that the most important fight for a desert community like Tucson is for a safe, secure and affordable supply of water. Paul has been an advocate for water saving measures like grey water hookups in new homes, managing our service area, water harvesting and ensuring that water conservation incentives are available to all of our citizens. Tucson now uses less water than it did 30 years ago, despite our larger population. Paul knows that we must continue to find new ways to use less water.