Yesterday, the City of Phoenix wrapped up its first round of elections by finalizing who will fill at least three council seats.
Former State Senator, Jim Waring and current councilmen, Bill Gates and Michael Nowakowski easily won their primaries with Waring overcoming interim councilman Bryan Jeffries and Gates fending off a challenge by Steven Gross. Both districts traditionally elect Republicans but in District 7, Democrat Michael Nowakowski won handily against conservative populist challenger, Janet Contreras.
In District 1, it appears that incumbent Thelda Williams may hold on to the 50% plus one votes to win re-election from newcomer conservative challenger, Eric Frederick. Frederick’s supporters are holding out hope that uncounted ballots will deprive Williams the 50% plus one margin for Frederick to continue into a runoff election against her. Ballots will continue to be counted with an unofficial final result announced Friday.
Union-supported Democrat Daniel Valuenzuela may have anchored 42% of the vote in Council District Five but he most certainly will face a runoff against either Republicans Brenda Sperduti or Eric Sloan. At last count, only 27 votes separated both Republicans with Sperduti holding the lead. Tea Party activists had high hopes for Charlie Ellis who finished in 4th place.
But the real excitement occurred in the Phoenix Mayor’s race where Democrat Greg Stanton won almost 38% of the vote. Grouped behind him were five Republicans who combined, secured the remaining 62% of the vote. Republican Wes Gullett captured the highest number of votes at 20.54% guaranteeing him a spot in the runoff election. Following Gullett, were former councilmen Peggy Neely and Claude Mattox. Tea Party candidate, Jennifer Wright, who entered the race at the last minute finished with 11.47% of the vote with unknown Anna Brennan finishing last with almost 5% of the vote.
Republicans now have clear choices in the runoff election to be held in November with Wes Gullett at the head of the ticket. (Incidentally, I believe we broke the story of Wes Gullett entering the mayor’s race right here on Sonoran Alliance.)
Greg Stanton is known as a progressive San Francisco-style liberal Democrat which allows Wes Gullett to run the remainder of the campaign demonstrating a far more mainstream approach of governing the 6th most populated city in America. If Republicans consolidate votes from each of the other campaigns behind Wes Gullett, it is very likely Gullett will be the next Mayor of Phoenix.
Now my editorial.
It’s time to solidify support behind Wes Gullett. Phoenicians cannot afford a liberal progressive mayor like Greg Stanton. Stanton would bring a San Francisco, Gavin Newsom governing-style to Phoenix which would ultimately bankrupt the city. The good news is that Councilman Sal DiCiccio and Bill Gates have another conservative voice and ally on the council in Jim Waring. Should Thelda Williams win re-election (which appears likely) having Jim Waring join the team of conservatives will hopefully put pressure on Thelda to behave herself on votes regarding taxes on water, food and corporate subsidies.
Heading into the runoff set for November will be an exciting exercise in rallying behind a mayoral candidate who is dramatically ideologically different from his liberal Democratic opponent. Depending on who earns second place in district five will may also spark some excitement. Republican Eric Sloan could turn that race into a union vs the taxpayers campaign but a Sperduti win would deflate conservative hopes for reform against the union candidate, Valenzuela.
For those who find their campaigns at the end of the line, don’t rule them out of future political endeavors. This may very well be the beginning for several of them. Politics is oftentimes seen as a war of ideas and their campaigns may only be one battle in the effort to win the overall war.
Congratulations to Wes Gullett, Jim Waring, Bill Gates and the Democratic opponents! Thanks to those who gave it their best effort: Peggy Neely, Claude Mattox, and Jennifer Wright. Now it’s on to the runoff election in November in the battle for Phoenix.