Council races head toward finish line The Chandler Arizonan

Council races head toward finish line

Council races head  toward finish line
City News
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By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

Chandler’s six city council candidates have collectively spent nearly $70,000 campaigning during the last couple months as the Aug. 4 election heads into the final stretch.

Early voting to fill three seats has been underway since July 8 and the six candidates have been ramping up their campaigns.

And the financial activity of any candidate – even at the local level – could potentially indicate how much community support they have and signal their chances of winning.

Campaign finance records filed by council candidates for the quarter that ended June 30 show where candidates have been getting support – and how much they’re spending to win.

A final pre-primary report is due on Monday, July 27.

During the quarter ending June 30, former Councilman Rick Heumann drew nearly $26,000 in donations – the most by any candidates – in his bid to get elected back onto the council.

He had to sit out the last four years after being termed out following two four-year stints on council between 2008 and 2016.

Heumann has been serving on the Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission and chaired the Chandler Chamber of Commerce Public Policy Committee while he waited for a chance to regain a seat on council.

According to finance reports, Heumann’s garnered support of several law enforcement and firefighter unions from across the Valley. The Phoenix Law Enforcement and Tempe Officer associations each kicked in $500 to his campaign and firefighter unions in Glendale, Surprise and Phoenix each contributed $700.

Heumann, who’s been endorsed by the Chandler Law Enforcement Association, has been running on a campaign platform that emphasizes his long history of public service and commitment to fiscal prudence at a time when the city could be facing an economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

You can’t go out and just spend a bunch of money that you maybe don’t have,” Heumann said during a candidate debate in May.

But Heumann is not the candidate who’s been spending the most during this last quarter.

Finance records indicate that Councilman Jeremy McClymonds has spent more than $20,000 – twice the amount spent by Heumann – on advertising and campaign materials.

McClymonds was appointed to fill a council seat in 2018 and is running his first campaign this year. Not long after his appointment, McClymonds got to work on campaigning for re-election and gathered about $42,000 in contributions throughout 2019, records show.

One of McClymonds’s biggest donations was a $6,450 check from Bernard Anderson, the chief executive officer of the American Bicycle Association.

Over the last couple months, McClymonds has attracted nearly $9,000 in contributions and ended the most recent quarter with a cash balance of $34,500.

Some of his notable contributors include Dignity Health CEO Jane Hanson, who gave McClymonds $500, and a $250 from a managing director of JLL Phoenix, a real estate management firm that recently brokered the sale of Chandler Pavilions Mall.

Councilman Mark Stewart, who is seeking a second term on council, has spent $14,000 this last quarter and collected nearly $14,000 in donations. Stewart also loaned $15,000 of his own money to his campaign.

Some of his donors have included businessmen who have had projects reviewed by the city in recent years.

Jason Weber, a vice president of Maracay Homes, donated $250 to Stewart on June 21 – one month after Council approved Maracay’s plans for a new 86-lot subdivision near McQueen and Chandler Heights roads.

Stewart also got $500 from the founder of Spike Lawrence Ventures, the development firm that made a deal with the city in 2018 to turn a piece of vacant land into the New Square retail complex.

Christine Ellis, another candidate for council, reported spending $13,700 this past quarter and receiving $15,000 in contributions.

Ellis has worked in the assisted-living industry for several years and her campaign promises to foster new relationships between Chandler and the higher-education community.

Beth Brizel, a former member of the Kyrene School District Governing Board, has received about $5,000 in contributions and spent $4,800 on campaigning this last quarter.

Brizel has received endorsements from law enforcement unions and the Phoenix Law Enforcement Association donated $1,000 to her campaign.

OD Harris, an entrepreneur and military veteran, took in $10,000 this past quarter and spent $7,200 on his campaign.

According to finance reports, Harris notably received a flood of donations on June 26 – the same day he reported on social media that several of his campaign signs had been tampered with and destroyed.

The rest of the primary election for Chandler features few party competitions as candidates for county, legislative and congressional seats prepare for the Nov. 4 ballot battle.

One of the few primary competitions of local interest is a three-way race for the Republican nomination in the 9th Congressional District for a chance to take on incumbent U.S. Rep Greg Stanton.

Chandler City Councilman Sam Huang, whose first term expires at the end of this year, chose not to run for reelection and is instead running in that race.

A formula based on the total number of votes cast in the council elections will determine whether any or three candidates win a seat outright and avoid a runoff election in November.

For Chandler registered voters who have not yet cast their ballots, the city has four centers where they can still vote early until July 31.

Voters can visit City Hall 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, or go between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. to Chandler Fashion Center, 3111 W. Chandler Blvd., or 8 a.m.-7 p.m. at Chandler-Gilbert Community College, 2626 E. Pecos Road. The voting center at Sun Lakes United Methodist Church, 9248 E. Riggs Road is open 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

On Election Day, voted ballots may also be dropped off at City Hall from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.

To vote in person early or on Election Day, registered voters must present identification. A list of acceptable IDs is available at chandleraz.gov/elections, under Frequently Asked Questions.

It’s too late to request an early ballot.

Maricopa County Elections recommends that ballots be returned by mail no later than July 29.

It’s not clear what type of impact the pandemic might have on turnout, but preliminary data shows more than 22,000 early ballots have been cast in Chandler.

County election officials have been taking steps to ensure all residents will still be able to easily vote in a safe environment by requiring poll workers to wear masks and gloves.

Maricopa County is further allowing voters to ignore precinct rules and attend any polling place they want on Election Day.

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