state representative, Arizona
Steve Farley is a 46-year-old small-business owner married to Kelly Paisley and father of Amelia, 14, and Genevieve, 10. He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College (Mass.) in 1985 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. He was elected to the Arizona Legislature as State Representative from District 28 in November 2006. He now serves as the Ranking Democrat on the Government and Ways & Means committees, as well as Member of the Transportation committee. Steve is well-known to Tucsonans as the artist who gathered personal photos from the Tucson community and turned them into those historic photographic tile murals around the Broadway Underpass, at the eastern gateway to Downtown Tucson, using a tilemaking process he invented. Steve has been actively involved in City politics for the past seven years, in particular as a strong advocate for neighborhoods, downtown revitalization, and sustainable transportation improvements. "He can make things happen, and it's not in the traditional political way," said Tucson attorney and political activist Clague Van Slyke III in an article in the Tucson Weekly. "He has great ideas; he has a lot of vision, and he can get things done by bringing people together. And he’s not hidebound by traditional political ties." He is founder of the transit advocacy group Tucsonans for Sensible Transportation. In that role, he motivated hundreds of grassroots volunteers and donors to gather more than 18,000 signatures from city voters to place on the ballot a Citizens’ Transportation Initiative (that would have boosted transportation alternatives) in November 2003, and won over 70% of the vote in much of the central city, although it was defeated overall. He didn’t give up. He went on to work with conservationist Carolyn Campbell alongside former rivals from the business and development community as a key member of the Citizen Advisory Committee that created the multimodal Tucson Regional Transportation Authority sales tax and plan on the ballot on May 16, 2006. He was instrumental in convincing an initially anti-transit committee to raise the portion allotted to public transit from $200 million to $532 million in the final plan. He served on the Executive Committee and was a chief spokesperson for the Yes!! for Regional Transportation campaign for approval of the tax and plan. That initiative won 60% of the vote, and was the first transportation tax and plan to pass in Tucson history, after four previous tries. Farley has been Vice-Chair of the Pima Association of Governments Regional Transportation Plan (PAG-RTP) Task Force, a member of the Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) Citizens Advisory Committee, and a member of the City of Tucson Major Transit Investment Study Citizen Advisory Group. The Arizona Transit Association honored him with the statewide 2006 Friend of Transit award. He is also a Board Member of the central-city Blenman Elm Neighborhood Association and the Tucson Downtown Alliance. He has collaborated with a broad range of Tucson environmentalists and government officials on various livability issues ranging from the Sonoran Desert Conservation Plan to alternative modes of transportation to organic gardening to smart growth to water harvesting to urban design. He has been named “Conservation Hero” by the Arizona League of Conservation Voters, “Legislative Champion” by the Arizona League of Cities and Towns, and “Arts Hero” by Arizona Citizen Action for the Arts.