Crowded ballot spells numerous decisions for Chandler voters The Chandler Arizonan

Crowded ballot spells numerous decisions for Chandler voters

October 20th, 2020 Chandler Arizona Staff
Crowded ballot spells numerous decisions for Chandler voters
City News
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By PAUL MARYNIAK
Arizonan Executive Editor

Most Chandler residents on the permanent early voter list have already discovered what their counterparts who like to visit voter centers will learn in three weeks: there are a lot of names and offices to go through.

Beyond the high-profile races for President and a U.S. Senate seat in Arizona, Chandler voters are wading through a ballot that includes judges, all county offices, initiatives on an education tax and recreational marijuana, their three representatives in the Legislature and, depending on where they live, two or three school board races.

Chandler voters who want to cast ballots in person have only one place in the city to do so starting this week, one more next week and another three on Nov. 2 and Election Day.

But to accommodate an anticipated uptick of voters, the County Recorder expanded access through the Vote Center model, where voters can choose from any voting location than at one assigned site.

The department also is adding new, drive-through drop boxes in the parking lots of sport stadiums across the county from Oct. 24 to Nov. 3. To find sites and hours of operation, go to Locations.Maricopa

Starting Oct. 22, voters can vote in person from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. on week days at the Chandler Boulevard Shops near P.F. Chang’s at Chandler Fashion Center, 3305 W. Chandler Blvd.; and starting Oct. 28, they can do the same 9 a.m.-7 p.m. week days at the Annex at Chandler Commons, 1909 E. Ray Road.

Voters who wait till close to the last minute can visit First Baptist Church Chandler, 3405 S. Arizona Ave, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 2 and 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 3. Those same days and times apply to the voter centers at the Islamic Center of the East Valley, 425 N. Alma School Road and at Word of Life Church, 2440 E. Germann Road.

People who have filled out their ballot can drop it off at a secured drop-off box at Chandler City Hall starting Oct. 19 from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. weekdays only.

For a list of places to vote in person or drop off a ballot, go to locations.maricopa.vote.

But it’s possible many of Chandler’s 167,998 registered voters will be mailing or already have sent their ballots, as there are 132,750 on the permanent early voter list, according to the County Recorder.

The most recent data show there are 56,855 registered Republicans in Chandler versus 53,669 Democrats. Registered voters not affiliated with either party total 55,740.

Here’s a look at what’s at stake Nov. 3:

Legislature

Most northern Chandler voters will be weighing in on the race in Legislative District 18, which also includes Ahwatukee and parts of Mesa and Tempe.

In that district, Democrats hold the registration lead.

That could be good news for the all-Democratic LD18 delegation that includes Sen. Sean Bowie of Ahwatukee and state Reps. Mitzi Epstein of Tempe and Jennifer Jermaine of Chandler. Both Bowie and Epstein are seeking a third term and Jermaine her second.

According to the latest data, LD18 counts 56,174 Democrats, 51,861 Republicans and 50,768 independents.

Taking on the incumbents are Republican Senate candidate Suzanne Sharer of Ahwatukee and House candidates Bob Robson, also Ahwatukee, and Don Hawker of Tempe.

Hawker, a retired computer programmer for the federal government, won a spot on the ballot after a successful and rare write-in bid in the primary.

Robson is hoping to return to the House, where he served from 2001 to 2009 and from 2011 to 2017 when he still lived in Chandler. He also served two terms on Chandler City Council.

Robson appears to be targeting Epstein, possibly because he and Jermaine – as well as Bowie – got the Chandler Chamber’s endorsement.

During the Clean Elections debate in late August, Robson at several points directly challenged Epstein on various issues.

Epstein last week accused him of unfairly and untruthfully describing her positions in his campaign posters.

“One sign accuses me of voting against education funding and the other against funding for the elderly; both signs are the opposite of the work I have done,” said Epstein in an email to supporters.

Sharer, an Ahwatukee resident and Realtor, is making her first foray into electoral politics, although she is no stranger to the political scene. She was appointed two years ago to the Ahwatukee Village Planning Committee by fellow Republican Phoenix Councilman Sal DiCiccio.

She is taking on an incumbent whose campaign war chest dwarfed hers as the fall campaign began in earnest in August and one who also has picked up the endorsements of more than two dozen business, law enforcement, education, labor and other organizations.

Campaign finance reports for the third quarter were not due until Oct. 15, after the Arizonan’s deadline.

School boards

Besides the Legislature, northern Chandler voters also will be deciding who fills three seats on either the Chandler Unified Governing Board or the boards for the Tempe Union High School and Kyrene school districts.

Michelle Fahy of Tempe is the only incumbent among the five candidates seeking one of three seats on the Kyrene board. Board President Michael Myrick opted to run for a seat on the Tempe Union Board and John King decided to retire.

Also running for a spot on the Kyrene board are Ivan Alfaro, an education consultant; Wanda Kolomyjec, an Arizona State University professor; Trine´ Nelson, a curriculum manager; and Margaret Wright, an adjunct biology professor.

In the Tempe Union race, incumbent board President Berdetta Hodge and member Sandy Lowe are hoping to hang on for another four year term in the face of six challengers that include 2019 Desert Vista High School graduate Armando Montero, now an ASU student.

Other candidates in the Tempe Union race include Realtor Lori Bastian, Ahwatukee attorney Don Fletcher and teachers Sarah Lindsay James and Paige Reesor.

There’s also a third governing board race awaiting voters as longtime Ahwatukee resident and educator Dr. Linda Thor sees another term on the Maricopa County Community College District board.

County races

The offices of Assessor, County Attorney, Treasurer, Superintendent of Schools and Recorder are all up for election.

But the county race that may be of special interest to Chandler voters involves the contest for District 1 supervisor.

Former Chandler Councilman and State Transportation Board member Jack Sellers is hoping to win a four-year term after getting the seat through appointment in 2018 to fill the remaining two years of Denny Barney’s term after he resigned to become president/CEO of the Phoenix East Valley Partnership.

Hoping to deny Sellers a full four year term is Democrat Jevin Hodge, who would become Maricopa County’s first African-American supervisor if he wins.

Hodge’s career experience includes working as the national engagement director for LINK Strategic Partners and as chair of the Booker T. Washington Child Development Center. He has served as a board member for Best Buddies Arizona and as an advisory board member for the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

Sellers is on the GPEC International Leadership Council, the Arizona-Mexico Commission and Arizona Sister Cities.

Two women are vying to be the County Attorney. Republican Allister Adel was appointed by the county Board of Supervisors after Bill Montgomery was named to the Arizona Supreme Court.

She is facing a challenge from Democratic Julie Gunnigle and both candidates are promising criminal justice system reforms.

Education candidates

Besides the Legislature, northern Chandler voters also will be deciding who fills three seats on either the Chandler Unified Governing Board or the boards for the Tempe Union High School and Kyrene school districts.

The race to fill three seats on the Chandler Unified Governing Board almost was canceled because three candidates are on the ballot for three seats.

But former CUSD teacher Sharon Tuttle’s emergence as a write-in candidate means the election is on.

The candidates on the ballot include: Joel Wirth, the district’s former chief financial officer; Jason Olive, an architect and parent of two CUSD students; and board President Barbara Mozdzen, who is seeking her fourth consecutive term.

Longtime board members David Evans and Karen McGee declined to run for re-election this year – opening the door for some new voices to be added to a board that presides over one of Arizona’s largest school districts.

In Kyrene, Michelle Fahy of Tempe is the only incumbent among the five candidates seeking one of three seats on the Kyrene board. Board President Michael Myrick opted to run for a seat on the Tempe Union Board and John King decided to retire.

Also running for a spot on the Kyrene board are Ivan Alfaro, an education consultant; Wanda Kolomyjec, an Arizona State University professor; Trine´ Nelson, a curriculum manager; and Margaret Wright, an adjunct biology professor.

In the Tempe Union race, incumbent board President Berdetta Hodge and member Sandy Lowe are hoping to hang on for another four-year term in the face of six challengers that include 2019 Desert Vista High School graduate Armando Montero, now an ASU student.

Other candidates in the Tempe Union race include Chandler Realtor Lori Bastian, Ahwatukee attorney Don Fletcher and teachers Sarah Lindsay James and Paige Reesor.

There’s also another governing board race awaiting voters as longtime Ahwatukee resident and educator Dr. Linda Thor seeks another term on the Maricopa County Community College District board.

Thor, the former 20-year president of Rio Salado College, is facing former Queen Creek cosmetology instructor Shelli Boggs, who has gained some notoriety for posing for photos with a semi-automatic assault rifle. Boggs also served on the governing board of the East Valley Institute of Technology.

The Boggs-Thor race is for an at-large seat on the seven-member community college board but Chandler voters also will be asked to choose their district representative to the panel.

The District 1 community college fight is between incumbent Laurin Hendrix, who just won a two-year seat on the Gilbert Town Council – he is allowed to hold both offices – and Jacqueline Smith, the vice president at the ASU Foundation for a New American University.

Weed and taxes

Votes also will decide the fate of two propositions.

The Smart and Safe Arizona Act, or Proposition 207, would legalize the possession and recreational use of marijuana for adults and impose a 16.0 percent tax on sales.

According to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, the proposition would generate an estimated annual $166 million in revenue from tax and licensing fees.

Supporters include former Gov. John Fife Symington, Arizona Attorneys for Criminal Justice and Arizona Dispensaries Association.

There were more groups opposed to the measure, which include Gov. Doug Ducey, the Yavapai County Attorney, the National Drug and Alcohol Screening Association, Saddle Mountain Unified School District in Litchfield Park, U.S. Rep. Debbie Lesko, R-Peoria, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Proposition 208, or the Invest in Education Act, would impose a tax on part of the income of high earners to help pay for teacher salaries, classroom support staff salaries teacher mentoring and retention programs and other education programs.

If passed, a 3.5 percent surcharge would be added to the existing income tax of 4.5 percent for single filers earning over $250,000 a year and couples earning over $500,000 annually. Only the income over those amounts would be subject to the tax.

The Joint Legislative Committee estimated the new surcharge would generate $827 million a year.

Those that support the proposition include the Gilbert Education Association, Higley Education Association, Children’s Action Alliance, United for Education and Mesa Education Association.

Opponents include Ducey, state Treasurer Kimberly Yee, Goldwater Institute, Arizona Tax Research Association, Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Greater Phoenix Chamber and Arizona Small Business Association.

The county is expecting a historic turnout. The 2008 General Election had the highest turnout at 79.76 percent and participation on record.

“We just surpassed 2.5 million registered voters, which is the highest number ever recorded in Maricopa County,” said elections spokeswoman Megan Gilbertson.

According to officials, close to 78 percent of Maricopa County’s 2.5 million registered voters have already requested a ballot in the mail. 

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