VERDE VALLEY - Perhaps following a trend nationwide of voter's distrust with incumbents, a number of surprises surfaced during the Aug. 30 mayoral primary election in the Verde Valley, including the ouster of one incumbent mayor and razor-thin victory of another.
As of 9:46 p.m., the Yavapai County Recorder's Office reported 100 percent of ballots counted for the mayoral races in Camp Verde, Clarkdale and Jerome, with only Cottonwood pending with 40 percent of ballots counted. The results are as follows:
Cottonwood may see two new faces oust a veteran public servant
A familiar name in Cottonwood council may have been ousted by two upstarts, with Cottonwood Council member Terrance Pratt apparently failing in his bid for the mayoral seat vacated by Diane Joens, who also lost her bid for election in the County Supervisor's race.
First place in the mayor's race appears to go to Tim Elinski with 46.19 percent of the vote so far, followed by Holly Grigaitis with a tentative 29.14 percent. A total of 1,366 votes were tallied by 9:46 p.m. in this town of over 10,000 residents.
"I didn't think I would do that well for a variety of reasons," said Pratt. "I think some of it is that I was seen as the establishment candidate for the first time in my life."
Pratt said he plans to continue contributing to the arts and entertainment of Cottonwood, as well as its parks and recreation.
Apparent top-vote getter Elinski said, "Overall, I'm extremely humble. In speaking with people, they are ready for positive change in the community and new leadership. Obviously, they are very concerned about spending and job growth."
"We worked hard doing the mayoral campaign. I think my years of service and my involvement in different committees has really paid dividends in our success," said Elinski.
Meanwhile, the apparent second-place finisher in the race for Cottonwood mayor remained upbeat.
"I feel fabulous," said Grigaitis. "The voters told me I am the right person for the job. The number one concern I hear over and over is our budget and our debt and how we are spending our money."
"Our elected officials on all levels have been negligent in what really is going on by delegating a lot of powers to bureaucrats instead of being willing to take the fall for their own decisions. We could use some new blood," she said.
Jerome shocker as one vote may determine new mayor
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night occurred in the historic mining-turned-arts town of Jerome, where popular Mayor Lew Currier may have suffered the backlash of anti-incumbent sentiment this election.
Although 92 write-in votes still await allocation among candidates Dwain Dement and Jay Kinsella, it appears Hunter Bachrach may have pulled an upset by being the current top vote-getter (and therefore potential Mayor-elect) with his 71 votes over nearest rival Council member Frank Vander Horst's 70 votes. With Council member Christina "Alex" Barber pulling-in 53 votes, it was Lew Currier who came in at the bottom, earning 49 votes in the Aug. 30 primary.
"The people have voted the way they have voted. That's the way it plays out," said Currier.
"I didn't do too much campaigning. I wasn't sure I wanted to run because it was time for maybe some new people to come-in. Well, people would keep coming-up to me and saying, 'You should run.' This is what happens when you don't listen to your original instinct, I guess," Currier said.
When notified of his apparent first-place standing, Bachrach said, "That's a surprise. I'm certainly happy with the results but I did not expect to be mayor (elect)."
When asked why he felt he did so well in the primary election, Bachrach had this to say:
"The preservation of the lifestyle and community of Jerome is the number one concern of the residents. I'm afraid of losing that to growth and commercial development. It's a wonderful town and we don't want it to become another Telluride or Scottsdale," said Bachrach.
"I'm about historic preservation. I'll do my best to make the best decisions I can," he said.
Camp Verde mayoral candidate David Boily 43.80 percent comes close to Charlie German's 55.85 percent
Little-known upstart David Boily came within 138 votes of defeating incumbent Charlie German in the race for mayor in the Town of Camp Verde. Boily garnered 502 votes and German 640 votes in a town of over 10,000 residents.
"They wanted someone to hear what they have to say. They want to keep Camp Verde as rural as possible. They figure it wasn't being done," said Boily after the election.
"Council feels that they are there for their own gratification and not hearing the voice of the people. I just think people are tired of politicians and want them to pay attention to what they have to say. It was a good race. It's just a shame I didn't make it," he said.
Although German thought "it was pretty close," he was pleased that more candidates ran for mayor and council than seats available, saying "I think that's a plus side."
"I'm honored Camp Verde is giving me an opportunity to serve another two years," said German, although he voiced disappointment at the countywide voter turnout of 28.35 percent of registered voters.
"It reminded me of those days in school when you had 10 percent of the people doing 90 percent of the activities and events. It's the same thing, the givers and the takers," said German.
German was pleased to hear of the passage of the town's 10-year General Plan, saying "it gives clarity to those wanting to invest in Camp Verde."
"I'm going to give it my all and hope to work with council and move Camp Verde forward," he said.
Clarkdale incumbents score uncontested victory
While some towns gave life to new faces in politics, such was not the case in Clarkdale.
Unopposed candidate Doug Von Gausig will enter his fourth term as mayor. He will be joined in office by two incumbents: Council member Scott Buckley and Vice Mayor Richard Dehnert. The two tallied a combined total of over 94 percent of the vote compared with write-in candidate Tommy Nester.
"I appreciate their vote," said Von Gausig, "and I'm happy that Clarkdale made the right choice on Proposition 434 (passing a Permanent Base Adjustment for the town's budget). It will save time and money."