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Democrats re-elected to Tucson Council, county bonds fail

The Democratic incumbents on the Tucson City Council easily swept their Republican challengers, while the Pima County bond questions lost by large margins.

A proposition to ban red-light and speed enforcement cameras in Tucson passed easily, as did propositions to change the City Charter.

About 20,000 ballots remained to be counted across Pima County on Wednesday — possibly enough to affect some of the closer races. Check back for updates.

Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, cruising to re-election without a Republican opponent, declared victory as he spoke to about 200 people at a Democratic Party gathering at the Doubletree Hotel early Tuesday evening.

"Over the past last four years, we have moved Tucson forward," said Rothschild. "We can make Tucson work ... look at what we've done Downtown."

Referring to dark-money funded billboards placed by the independent campaign Revitalize Tucson, Rothschild said, "somehow, some people must have missed all the work the City Council has done for the last four years."

The "community will reaffirm" the Democratic slate, he said, declaring victory with a grin.

As early results were released, the Democratic incumbents were at one point leading by nearly 20 points over their challengers. In updated results released in the middle of the night, Councilwoman Regina Romero led Bill Hunt 57-43 percent in Ward 1, while Councilman Paul Cunningham also had a 57-43 margin over Kelly Lawton. Councilwoman Shirley Scott was moving toward a sixth term on the Council, with a 55-45 lead over Margaret Burkholder.

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Romero, up in the count but reluctant to claim a win, thanked her parents.

"They taught me what we're supposed to do — which is service to others," she told the crowd of Democrats.

But the councilwoman did discuss the tactics of her opponents.

"Voters saw through the mud-slinging," Romero said. "They've seen the tangible results of what we've done as a team."

"We don't count a win until the last vote is counted," she cautioned a room full of Democrats eager to hear their candidates declare victory.

Cunningham said he'd also wait to announce a win, but that he'd "talk more forcefully about the tactics of our opponents" when he does.

Scott, also leading handily, said the Democrats brought "verifiable facts" to their campaigns, while the campaign against the incumbents used, "I wouldn't want to say 'bald-faced lies.'"

One of the organizers of the effort to ban Tucson's red-light cameras cheered the vote results Wednesday morning.

"The 2 to 1 result is what was predicted by our own voter sampling of early voters," said Mark Spear in an email. "Tucson Traffic Justice is not a group of 'scofflaws' looking to violate the law with impunity. We are very interested in traffic safety, and will be offering multiple suggestions to promote safety greater than that claimed by the Tucson police from the cameras."

Bill Beard, the chair of the Pima County Republican Party, said he was "cautiously optimistic" as he waited to learn the fate of his candidates early Tuesday evening.

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"I think our guys had the better arguments," he said around 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. The question is, "has that permeated with the voters?," he said at a GOP gathering at Sushi Garden.

"I ran a hard race, did my best and the voters chose the incumbent," Burkholder said on Facebook on Wednesday morning. "I am humbled by all the outpouring of support from friends and family. Thank you! Now I get my life back and as I always say, all's well that ends!"

Also on Wednesday, GOP City Council hopeful Kelly Lawton posted on Facebook, "The voters have spoken and my bid to represent you has fallen short. I greatly value and appreciate all the volunteers and supporters who embraced my candidacy for Tucson City Council. Without you this effort would not have been possible."

"I want to wait until we see more of the ballots come in," Beard said later Tuesday night, as his candidates failed to catch up as a second vote tally was released after 9 p.m. "A lot more people showed up at the polls today and that final surge should help out candidates."

"We have to remember that in Pima County, it's not over until it's over. We won't see full results until Thursday or Friday, so we really have to wait and see," he said.

Beard said he was "beyond happy with the three candidates that ran" in this campaign.

One of those candidates, Lawton, said he woke up at 4 a.m. Tuesday to place campaign signs outside polling places.

"I was born and raised in Tucson, and year after year I’ve sat back and watched the city struggle," Lawton said. "And, I believe that I have the leadership to do something about it and really help the city move forward."

"I've worked as hard as I could," he said of his run against Cunningham.

Not willing to concede a loss Tuesday night, the Republicans candidates left their gathering around 10:40 p.m. The Democrats broke up their event about the same time, with a mix of smiles about their Council wins and downcast gazes from those who'd worked to pass the county bonds.

Election results

Updated Aug. 12 1:36:21 am

Voter Turnout

Pima County: 38.51%

Tucson MAYOR

CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
ROTHSCHILD, JONATHAN (D)51,1388,7841,43661,35893.41%

Tucson City Council WARD 1

CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
HUNT, BILL (R)25,9326,56764233,14142.07%
ROMERO, REGINA (D)38,0526,1491,16645,36757.59%

Tucson City Council WARD 2

CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
CUNNINGHAM, PAUL (D)37,9706,1781,14845,29657.50%
LAWTON, KELLY (R)26,0426,52766233,23142.19%

Tucson City Council WARD 4

CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
BURKHOLDER, MARGARET (R)27,0316,89768334,61143.99%
SCOTT, SHIRLEY C (D)36,9365,7721,11643,82455.70%

Tucson Prop. 201: Red Light Cameras

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Tucson Prop. 403: Mayoral Parity

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Tucson Prop. 404: Civil Service/Dep't Heads

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Tucson Prop. 405: Mayor & Council Salaries

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%


CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
HIREMATH, SATISH 6,4461,0381287,61251.33%
STRANEY, PATRICK "PAT" 5,2719691106,35042.82%
WINFIELD, JOSEPH 76755168385.65%


CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
HARTUNG, RYAN 6,0041,0481317,18348.87%
HORNAT, JOE6,3869861197,49150.96%


CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
BURKE, DOUG1,721317452,08314.19%
LAMONNA, SHIRL4,264738765,07834.60%
SNIDER, MARY6,3899891217,49951.09%


CandidateEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
DIDIO, STEVE5,8021,0081276,93747.96%
WATERS, LOU6,3869901237,49951.85%

Pima County propositions

Prop. 425: Road and Highway Improvements

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 426: Economic Development, Libraries and Workforce Training

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 427: Facilities Promoting Tourism

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 428: Parks and Recreational Facilities

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 429: Public Health, Welfare, Safety, Neighborhoods and Housing

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 430: Natural Area Conservation and Historic Preservation

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 431: Flood Control and Drainage

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Other propositions

Prop. 432: Catalina Foothills School District Bonds

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 433: Catalina Foothills School District Override

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 434: Continental School District Override

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 435: Flowing Wells School District Override

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 436: Sahuarita School District Bond

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 437: Sunnyside School District Override

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%

Prop. 438: Sahuarita General Plan

PropositionEarlyPollsProvTotal Votes%
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3 comments on this story

Nov 4, 2015, 9:38 am
-0 +2

Wow, Tucson’s housing market is in a rut, and people vote against every bill to make Tucson more attractive to live in.  Between that and state Republicans gutting education, I’m looking for a way out, and fast.  I sure as hell don’t want to have to raise children here.

While I’m generally not a fan of police cameras, I make an exception for red light cameras.  I’ve lived in other places where red light running was an epidemic, and in five years they had seriously changed the culture.  That that would be really important here, because Tucson drivers are some of the worst I’ve ever dealt with, including being hit myself in an intersection because someone ran a light, and being narrowly missed twice.

Nov 4, 2015, 6:59 am
-4 +2

So, let me see if I have this right, Tucson…

You vote to ban the red light cameras. Then, on the very same ballot, you vote to retain the same mayor and council that forced them upon you and blatantly lied about the motivations for doing so.

You’re a special kind of stupid, aren’t you?

This is why when it came time to purchase my first home, I did not look anywhere inside the Tucson city limits. I do not want any part of that insanity.

Nov 3, 2015, 11:10 pm
-3 +2

I’ve known for many years that the majority in this town wants to keep us all unemployed and in the dark ages. This is why they blindly vote a straight party ticket, not even reading the names of the candidates. However, I didn’t think they were so stupid to vote down the bond issues.

I did the math. If all seven bond measures passed, that would have resulted in about $18 more in property taxes each year for me. While Pima County is rife with corruption and incompetence, I thought it was worth rolling the dice with $18 to see if they got even some of the proposed projects right.

At least they’re doing the right thing with banning the revenue cameras…

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Dylan Smith/TucsonSentinel.com

Democrats announce that the vote count is going their way: Councilwoman Shirley Scott, Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, Councilwoman Regina Romero and Councilman Paul Cunningham.

Live election results

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Election results

Pima County propositions