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Council candidate filings set up 2 contested primaries

Ward 3 Dems, Ward 6 Greens will see August ballot choices

Tucson's city primary election in August won't just be an opportunity for candidates to organize the base this year — there will be two contested races. Three Democrats will face off for the open Ward 3 seat, and two Green Party candidates are running in the primary for Ward 6.

Come November's general election, only those wards will see more than one candidate on the ballot — Ward 5 Democrat Richard Fimbres is running unopposed for another term on the City Council.

In Ward 3, the winner of the Democratic primary between Felicia Chew, Paul Durham and Thomas Tronsdal will face off independent Gary Watson in November. Local Republicans declined to back Watson's run because the Northwest Fire District employee supported Prop. 101, the bump in the city sales tax to support police, fire and road repairs.

Councilwoman Karin Uhlich announced that she isn't seeking another term in the ward, setting off the three-way primary. No Republican candidate turned in signatures by Tuesday's filing deadline, but Watson's name will appear on November's ballot.

In Ward 6, Councilman Steve Kozachik is seeking another term. The Democrat will be facing off against Republican Mariano Rodriguez, and the Green who makes it through the primary, on the November ballot.

Rodriguez hasn't been responsive to press queries, and it remains to be seen if a candidate who boosted Donald Trump so fervently that he's pulled down his previous Facebook and Twitter ("Deplorable Mariano") accounts to hide his backing, will catch on with Tucson's Democratic voting majority. But Kozachik has put a leash on his campaign, vowing to not raise funds for his reelection effort nor to buy political advertisements.

Also in Ward 6, Greens Mike Cease and Michael Oatman are seeking their party's nomination.

Of course, candidate's places on the ballot aren't yet set in stone with the submission of nominating petitions. The Democratic Party will be looking closely at Rodriguez's in particular. Although he filed 205 signatures, the Dems will be checking to see if they can invalidate enough of them to push him below the 115 required for a Republican to secure a ballot spot in Ward 6.

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Watson's will also likely be getting a close look, although he has a larger cushion. He filed 536 signatures, and needs 377 valid ones under the "nomination by other than primary" process in Ward 3.

Under Tucson's municipal election system, candidates for the City Council are nominated by the voters in ward primaries, and then run city-wide in the general election.

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