Phoenix mayoral election still undecided


Al Macias: The race for Phoenix mayor will head to a run off in March. No candidate received more than 50% of the vote. Former Phoenix city council woman Kate Gallego will go head to head with former councilman Daniel Valenzuela. Joining me to talk about this is Jessica Boehm, reporter with the Arizona Republic. Thanks for joining us on "Horizonte."

Jessica Boehm: Of course.

Al Macias: So the election season isn’t over?

Jessica Boehm: It's going to keep going.

Al Macias: So can you layout, if you will, just the legwork or framework of what happens next?

Jessica Boehm: Sure so, you know, we are going to enter another period of campaigning for these two candidates who were the top two vote getters last week. So both Kate Gallego and Daniel Valenzuela will proceed onto this run-off election. Kate Gallego, according to unofficial results, they are still not finalized yet, but she has a pretty significant lead over Daniel Valenzuela or I should say she did last week, at 19-points. And so it would be interesting to see how that shifts in to this next part of the election cycle.

Al Macias: So obviously this city election took place during the whole statewide election. Much larger turn out than normally would occur I think some of my numbers in my little research that I did shows there was almost 50% of the city turn out, which is about twice what normally happens in a city election. Will that play a role? Will that be a factor in that run off?

Jessica Boehm: I think Daniel Valenzuela’s hoping it plays a role. You know this was -- this was historic turn out for a city election because like you said usually it is in August of odd years when you are having your normal mayoral election. You don't get great turnout in those types of elections. You are not going to get great turn out in this coming March election. It's going to be a smaller group of people most likely it’s going to be a group of people that are very tuned into city politics. I think it would be an uphill battle, still, for former councilman Valenzuela, but it will probably play a role and I am guessing that both of them have folks a lot smarter than me trying to figure out how to make this happen for this different electorate.

Al Macias: Speaking of differences, politically and philosophically, there is not a great separation between the two, is there?

Jessica Boehm: There is not. They are both, you know, left leaning candidates, for the most part they have ideological similarities. I think what they have been trying to do to put like some space between their personalities is -- or I guess their beliefs is that Kate Gallego has really stood firm on not wanting to fund sports facilities, namely the Phoenix Suns who may be in talks to do something with the City of Phoenix. So that’s been her individualizing thing. Whereas the -- whereas councilman Valenzuela who is a firefighter has tried to present himself as, you know, more friendly to public safety. Although, you know, both of them have taken very similar votes over the course of their council careers.

Al Macias: So there is the mayoral race, both of those council, former council people resigned, and so there is going to be elections for their two former seats, right?

Jessica Boehm: Absolutely.

Al Macias: And but there is also a difference in one of those seats, only for like a year and the other is for for three years?

Jessica Boehm: About that, yeah. So councilman Valenzuela, former councilman's seat in district five will expire in 2020 I believe now. So it will be a short time period to turn around whoever wins that seat will have to run again pretty quickly, whereas councilman Gallego's term just began this year, so it will be more than an extension.

Al Macias: And you were telling me that it looks like it will be kind of a mosh pit of a layout of candidates, at least right now district eight has, what, 10 candidates.

Jessica Boehm: 10 candidates.

Al Macias: That have filed paperwork.

Jessica Boehm: In district 10 that have filed paperwork, yes.

Al Macias: And the other district has four or five.

Jessica Boehm: They have five. But yes. District 10 is definitely going to or I mean district eight where there are 10 people.

Al Macias: There isn't 10 yet, is there?

Jessica Boehm: Goodness, no. It's definitely going to be, you know, interesting to see. I’m guessing that will slim down in the next coming months when you have to turn in signatures and do all of those other fun campaign things. But that district is really interesting because when the council went to make an interim appointment, they appointed someone to that district who is not running. So really no one has a leg up in that race. It will be a free for all to see what happens. Whereas in district five the council appointed Vania Guevara, who is running. So there’s a perception she might have a leg up because she's been able to have a few months of governing under her belt.

Al Macias: There was a lot of discussion in the general election, statewide election, about the Latino vote. Is that a factor in a city election, this city election, with, you know, Daniel Valenzuela-- obviously Latino, should he win he would be the first Latino mayor in Phoenix. Is that much of an issue or is anybody making -- putting focus that?

Jessica Boehm: You know, I know that Daniel has definitely tried to make that point, that this will be an important and historic achievement for the Latino community if he were the first Latino mayor. Beyond that, both districts five and district eight have, you know, high Latino populations and it will be interesting to see how that plays out and how those candidates are able to appeal to that community in both of those areas that have, you know, a large number of Latinos.

Al Macias: Going back to the council races you mentioned something that made me shake a little bit. Is that you still need a majority in the council races. And with that many candidates, how likely is it that there will be a winner?

Jessica Boehm: If you, if it’s, if by the time we get to March, if there are still 10 candidates on the ballot for district eight, there is basically no way that we are getting a Councilmember out of that election. It will have to go, again, in to a run off this time in May with district five. It could be the same if those five candidates this time around with the mayor we only had four candidates and we have to go to a run off. So when ever you put that many, you know, chess pieces on the table you are going to, you know, split the vote. It is just way too much to win an out right election.

Al Macias: So we’re guaranteed election coverage, well not guaranteed but there is a good chance of election coverage for another six months then?

Jessica Boehm: Yeah. I think that might be my role for another six months or so. [ Laughter ]

Al Macias: Well we appreciate your expertise coming in to tonight. Your insight. And good luck with that election coverage then over the next several months.

Jessica Boehm: Thanks, I think I am going to need it.

Al Macias: All right. I appreciate it. Thank you so much.

The race for Phoenix mayor will head to a runoff in March as no candidate received more than 50 percent of the vote. Kate Gallego will go head to head with Daniel Valenzuela. Here to talk about it is Arizona Republic reporter Jessica Boehm.

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