Finish Line

The election for Tucson's mayor and City Council races is almost here

Tucson voters will pick a new mayor and decide the fate of three incumbent Tucson City Council members on Tuesday, Nov. 8.

But most voters won't be going to the polls to do so, because the city has instituted a new vote-by-mail system, and ballots were sent to all of Tucson's registered voters.

As of Monday, Oct. 31, the Tucson City's Clerk's Office had gotten back 47,160 of the roughly 211,000 ballots that were mailed out in mid-October, according to Suzanne Mesich, an assistant city clerk.

That put turnout at 22 percent already, with a week left for voters to cast ballots.

Democratic voters, who significantly outnumber Republicans in the city limits, had sent back 22,422 ballots, while Republicans had sent back 14,669. Libertarians had mailed in 247 ballots; Green Party voters had sent in 169; and independent voters not affiliated with those parties had sent in 9,653.

Those early numbers are good news for Democrats, although simply being a registered Democrat does not guarantee that a voter will support the party ticket.

The Weekly has been reporting on the races since June, so if you want to learn more about the candidates before casting your ballot, you can visit our website for more information on their backgrounds and positions.

But as the candidates hit the final stretch, here's the latest news:

In the mayor's race: Democrat Jonathan Rothschild has been hammering Republican opponent Rick Grinnell for his role on the Rio Nuevo board, which is suing the city of Tucson for $47 million, demanding control of various downtown properties, and refusing to spend any money on repairing the Tucson Convention Center. (Most recently, the Rio Nuevo board threatened to evict the city from the TCC if the city doesn't divert tax dollars from public safety, parks, transportation or other city services into fixing it up.)

Rothschild has also pounded Grinnell for his proposal to cut back trash service to once every 10 days or every other week as a cost-savings measure.

Grinnell, who walked back his proposal to reduce trash service after discovering that it violated state law and was unpopular with voters, has been criticizing Rothschild because the Democratic mayoral nominee is supported by Democrats on the Tucson City Council.

Grinnell has been making most of his charges via a slick TV ad, which he's been able to keep on the air after his campaign qualified for city matching funds last week.

Meanwhile, Green Party nominee Mary DeCamp, who was evicted from her foreclosed home during the mayoral campaign, has moved into a tent set up in downtown's Armory Park as part of the Occupy Tucson movement.

DeCamp prematurely celebrated her campaign's qualification for city matching funds last week before city officials informed her that she had not, in fact, crossed the threshold of receiving a minimum of 300 contributions of at least $10 from city residents. DeCamp met with city officials on Monday, Oct. 31, to provide supplemental contributions to qualify.

In the Ward 2 race: Democratic City Councilman Paul Cunningham has campaigned on a platform of protecting public safety, creating more jobs and fixing more roads. His Republican opponent, Jennifer Rawson, has been attacking him with a TV ad that claims Cunningham cut the city's 911-system budget.

Rawson, who touts her business acumen developed while working for the Xerox Corporation in the 1980s, says that Cunningham probably didn't mean to trim funding for the 911 service, "but by the same token, he doesn't know how to read the budget."

Rawson seems to be suffering from some difficulty with numbers herself, having turned in 17 amended campaign-finance reports since June. Also, despite the multitude of amended reports, Rawson does not appear to have thus far reported any spending on the television advertisements that she has been running.

In the Ward 4 race: Democratic incumbent Shirley Scott has focused her attacks on Republican challenger Tyler Vogt's support for Tea Party politics—Vogt has called for privatizing the city's garbage collection, for example—as well as his use of city email lists acquired via public-records requests to send out campaign bulletins.

Vogt has criticized Scott by claiming that the four-term councilmember has failed to control spending on the city's Rio Nuevo downtown-redevelopment efforts.

In the Ward 1 race: Democratic incumbent Regina Romero is facing Green Party candidate Beryl Baker, who has done relatively little campaigning to unseat Romero.

Election officials say that ballots should be mailed by Friday, Nov. 4, in order to arrive in time for counting on Election Day.

If you don't mail your ballot before then, you can drop it off—or get a new one—between 6 a.m. and 7 p.m. at one of six polling places set up in individual wards:

• Randolph Golf Complex, 600 S. Alvernon Way.

• Quincie Douglas Branch Library, 1585 E. 36th St.

• Clements Recreation Center, 8155 E. Poinciana Drive.

• St. Demetrios Greek Orthodox Church, 1145 E. Fort Lowell Road.

• Udall Park Recreation Center, 7200 E. Tanque Verde Road.

• Valencia Branch Library, 202 W. Valencia Road.

• Tucson City Clerk Elections Center, 800 E. 12th St.