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Updated Nov 8, 2011, 10:53 pm
Tucson has elected a new mayor, Democrat Jonathan Rothschild, and the party's City Council incumbents look to be holding their seats. Only the Ward 4 race between Shirley Scott and challenger Tyler Vogt is still a contest.
Rothschild pledged to work 14 hours a day to make Tucson a better city, and said he would "head to to City Hall first thing in the morning" to talk to the retiring Mayor Bob Walkup.
The mayor-elect spoke somberly of Tucson's poverty, aging infrastructure and ailing educational system, but brought cheers from supporters as he promised to make the mayor's office "an engine room" to push his 180-day plan to remake city government.
"Tomorrow morning, the real work begins," he said.
Across town at the GOP's election night gathering, the mood wasn't as upbeat.
"I feel fine. I’m getting up tomorrow; I’ve got a company to run. I’m going to be fine. It is what it is," said Rick Grinnell, who jumped into the mayoral race late, qualifying for the general election with primary write-in votes after the other Republican candidates couldn't gather enough signatures to appear on the primary ballot.
"There’s no excuses, there’s no regret, and overall, I’m very grateful to all the people and all the things we’ve accomplished. Without me in this race, we wouldn’t have had a race; this would have been a coronation," he said
Green Party candidate Mary DeCamp trailed with about 5 percent of the vote.
In Ward 4, incumbent Shirley Scott led by 1,700 votes, 51-49 percent, as the first results were released.
Ward 2 Councilman Paul Cunningham became the first appointed council member to be elected in his own right in decades, beating out GOP challenger Jennifer Rawson.
"We're going to make this decade Tucson's decade," Cunningham told the crowd at the Democrats' election night gathering.
Incumbent Democrat Regina Romero strolled to victory over the Green Party's Beryl Baker, who received 34 percent of the vote. More than 10,000 blank ballots were cast in the race, in which the Republicans didn't field a candidate.
Despite the lack of heat in the Ward 1 race, Romero received the most votes of any candidate, besting even Rothschild's total.
The city clerk announced Tuesday night that there are approximately 8,400 ballots remaining to be processed, mostly ballots that were turned in on Tuesday. Processing will take place Wednesday and Thursday. Final results should be released Thursday.
Turnout didn't set a record, but was just below Tucson's all-time high of 41 percent in a city election. While the city said Monday that some 41 percent of ballots had been returned, that figure included some ballots that had been returned as undeliverable by the Postal Service, and others that required a signature check before being counted.
"I think the mail-in voting affected the race by definitely boosting the outcome and I think a lot of that had to do with the phone-banking that was going on and the duration of the votes coming in," said Tyler Vogt. "It definitely boosted the number of the turnout."
- Jonathan Rothschild (D) 41,638 votes 54.90%
- Rick Grinnell (R) 30,435 votes 40.13%
- Mary DeCamp (G) 3,617 votes 4.77%
- Regina Romero (D) 42,411 votes 64.74%
- Beryl Baker (G) 22,301 votes 34.04%
- Paul Cunningham (D) 42,206 votes 56.8o%
- Jennifer Rawson (R) 31,951 votes 43.00%
- Shirley Scott (D) 37,572 votes 51.06%
- Tyler Vogt (R) 35,818 votes 48.68%
One thing's for certain: Tucson will elect a new mayor Tuesday.
Given the solid lead the Democrats have in registration, fundraising, name recognition—and, most importantly, ballot returns, the party's mayoral candidate and incumbent council members seem likely to keep their lock on city politics.
As of Monday, about 14,000 more Democrats had returned their ballots in Tucson's first all mail-in general election.
39,000 Democrats had mailed in their ballots, while 24,000 Republicans and 19,000 independents had—along with about 300 Greens and 500 Libertarians.
About 40 percent of ballots had been returned as of Monday night. The final tally may top 50 percent, with voters able to turn in their ballots on Tuesday at seven polling stations around the city.
As of mid-October, Democrats had raised over $568,000 between their four candidates, while the GOP candidates reported raising about $158,000 between their three contenders.
The local parties show a similar fundraising gap. The Democrats raised about $500,000 on the party level, while GOP donors were good for about $200,000—along with an influx of about $100,000 from the state party.
While outside Republican groups began spending money on the Tucson races, and the late addition of matching funds perhaps gave a bit of a boost to the GOP's candidates, the Dems' lead is a significant hurdle.
Polls close at 7 p.m. Check back for results, commentary and reaction throughout the night
We'll be at both the GOP gathering at the Manning House, downtown at 450 W. Paseo Redondo, and the Democratic party at Lodge on the Desert, 306 N. Alvernon Way. We might even swing by the Green shindig at Thompson's Tasteful Kitchen, 722 N. Stone.