County Races Still Up In Air

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While Rim country voters wait with their fellow countrymen for the outcome of the presidential race between Al Gore and George W. Bush, several of the closer local races also remain in question pending the counting of 2,065 ballots cast throughout the county.

Those ballots belong to absentee voters, early voters who cast or returned ballots after Nov. 2, and Election Day voters whose ballots need to be verified. County officials estimate that it might take until Tuesday or Wednesday of next week to finish the process and report the final tally.

"Part of the problem with getting the final count done is that Friday is a holiday," Dixie Mundy, Gila County elections director, said.

Adding to the uncertainty of the outcome of local elections were variations in the early reporting results, which were caused by overlapping summaries issued by the county elections department. The Payson area early vote totals, for example, were issued as a separate report and were also combined with a final tally for southern Gila County results.

Because these two early vote tallies were run at different times in the counting process, the sets of numbers were slightly different.

Combining the figures as instructed by the elections department produced higher vote totals than the latest combined Globe and Payson area tally issued by the elections department Wednesday morning.

Of the two contested county-wide races, John Armer, with a 2,351 vote lead, cannot be overtaken by Art Stone in the race for Gila County Sheriff. However Jim Hazel's lead over Jerry DeRose in the Gila County Attorney race is 1,106, so it is still possible for DeRose to prevail in the final tally.

While Armer is already making preparations to assume his new duties, he is proceeding with caution. "It's going to take some concentration and some research into the problems the department has," Armer said.

"We don't want to be too quick and jump in and make snap decisions," he said. "It won't take too long to make changes once we take over, and we'll be looking at what changes we want to make between now and the first of the year."

Armer, who is currently the police chief of Globe, also talked about his comfort level in assuming his new position. "I was raised in a sheriff's office, and I spent 21 years in the Maricopa County sheriff's office. I am very comfortable in this job," he said.

He also praised his opponent for running a very clean race. "Art called me and offered his full support. He is a class guy," Armer said.

Hazel, on the other hand, said he looks forward to the final tally and to having the results certified. He has not yet heard from DeRose.

Assuming his lead holds up, Hazel said he intends to improve both the efficiency and effectiveness of the current system, that he will expand drug treatment programs for first-time offenders, and that his office will prosecute individuals based on crimes committed rather than who they are or who they know.

"As you can imagine, we have been spending a lot of our time on the phone with the elections department at this point," Hazel said.

Several fire board races in the Rim country also appear too close to call pending final results next week. In the race for the board of the Beaver Valley Fire District, Jack Gardner leads Gerald Metz by just nine votes.

In the Pine-Strawberry Fire District, where four candidates are competing for three seats, James Swinghammer trails both Jerry Eisele and Ross Gooder by just three votes. The fourth candidate, Donald Smith, appears to have a safe lead for one of the seats.

In Tonto Village, just 10 votes separate Daryl Kilbourne, Erich Kirchhoefer and Royce O'Donnell, who are running for two board vacancies. Similarly, just six votes separate Rex Donley, Jerry Mabry and Joe Soldevere in the race for two openings on the Whispering Pines Fire District board.

In the Whispering Pines Fire District recall election, incumbent Harold Coleman is clinging to a five-vote lead over challenger James Karch.

One area school board race is also still up for grabs. In the Young Elementary School District, Lou Anna Selby trails Dorothy Yancy by just 12 votes.

Finally, the outcome of the Rim Trail Water District race between incumbent Lionel "Marty" Martinez and Steve Emerson will be determined by 17 uncounted absentee ballots from Maricopa County. Martinez currently holds a two-vote edge over Emerson.

Gila County voters agreed with the rest of the state on 12 of 14 initiatives on the ballot. Proposition 103, which increases the Corporation Commission from a three-person to a five-person body and permits commissioners to run for two four-year terms, passed statewide but was narrowly rejected by county voters.

Proposition 301, the proposal to increase the state sales tax from 5 to 5.6 percent to raise additional money for education, was defeated by less than 200 votes in Gila County. Statewide, 301 passed with 56 percent of the vote.

Here in the Rim country, voters approved 103, but turned down 301 by more than 600 votes.

As the controversy continues over the Florida electoral votes, some Rim country voters questioned whether it really matters to the average person if Bush or Gore becomes president. Donald Crowley, president and CEO of Family Financial Centers in Payson, said that in the long run, it probably doesn't make a lot of difference.

"No matter how this shakes out, neither Bush nor Gore will end up with a mandate," Crowley said. "Besides the balance in congress is even tighter."

Those two facts, Crowley said, probably mean that nobody will get anything very dramatic done in Washington. "And I really don't expect much impact on the market regardless of which one becomes president," he said.

Crowley said the overwhelming factor is not who is president, but the economy itself. "We're going into some sort of slowdown," he said. "The numbers show that.

"The stock market has declined since March 10, and this has affected spending at both the business and consumer level. Investors are nervous about Christmas sales, and there have been declines in telecommunications spending, computer sales, and auto sales."

Those facts, more than who is president, will impact our future, Crowley said. "In the short term, Bush helps the pharmaceutical companies, the HMOs, the oil companies, and tobacco. Gore, because he wants government control, is almost the reverse."

Whoever wins, Crowley said, the budget surplus will shrink. "It will either happen through social programs or a a broad tax cut."

Election results as of Nov. 8

Gila County results are unofficial pending the counting of absentee ballots and a small number of early voter ballots. Those votes could change the results in some of the county's closer school, fire and water board elections.

COUNTY ATTORNEY

Jim Hazel 8,269

Jerry DeRose 7,163

SHERIFF

John Armer 8,935

Art Stone 6,584

UNOPPOSED CANDIDATES

Gila County District 1 Supervisor

Ron Christensen 5,385

Gila County Superior Court Judge, Div. 1

Edward Dawson 10,033

County Treasurer

Priscilla M.L. Knuckey-Ralls 11,622

County School Superintendent

Armida G. Bittner 11,297

County Recorder

Linda Haught Ortega 11,611

County Assessor

Dale Hom 10,984

GENERAL ELECTION RESULTS

SCHOOL BOARDS

Payson - Dist. 10

Eileen Daniels Unopposed

Kristi Ford Unopposed

Caron Gaskill Unopposed

Young - Dist. 5

Mike McKinney Unopposed

Thomas Rye Unopposed

Young - Dist. 5 - 2-Year Term

Dorothy J. Yancy Unopposed

Lou Anna Selby Unopposed

Tonto Basin - Dist. 33 - Elect 1

Janeice D. Rodman 176

Mary Wilson 116

Tonto Basin - Dist. 33 - Recall

Linda Gayle Cheney 167

Karon L. Byers 102

Pine/Strawberry - Dist. 12 - Elect 3

Barbara Hazel 796

Karen Lila Randall 664

Lynnette Sommers 711

Michael J. Roggenstein 471

FIRE DISTRICT BOARDS

Beaver Valley

Jack A. Gardner Unopposed

Gerald L. Metz Unopposed

East Verde Park

James S. Cambier Unopposed

Mary L. Cambier Unopposed

Claire L. Wall Unopposed

Gisela Valley

Tallulah M. Sherer Unopposed

Pine/Strawberry - Elect 3

Ross W. Gooder 576

Donald L. Smith 676

Gerald "Jerry" Eisele 576

James H. Swinghammer 573

Pleasant Valley

Richard L. Hazelwood Unopposed

Valerie L. Sullivan Unopposed

Round Valley - Ox Bow Estates

Fred T. Hendrix Unopposed

Tonto Basin

Sharon L. Colyott Unopposed

Debra Kay Morris Unopposed

Tonto Village - Elect 2

Royce L. O'Donnell 63

Erich W. Kirchhoefer 61

Daryl M. Kilbourne 53

Mesa del Caballo

Judith "Judy" Thorman Unopposed

Mesa del Caballo

Change the Mesa del Caballo Fire District Board from a three-member to a five-member board

Yes 148

No 17

Mesa del Caballo - Elect 2

William M. Bergeron 106

Sheelah J. Golliglee 101

William D. Steffey 68

Dale Gonzalez 53

Darrell Axworthy 37

Christopher-Kohl's

Robert L. Anglin Unopposed

Diamond Star

Chris M. Benjamin Unopposed

Whispering Pines - Elect 2

Rex Donley 43

A.G. "Jerry" Mabry 43

Joe Soldevere 37

Whispering Pines - Recall

Harold Coleman 38

James R. Karch 33

WATER DISTRICT BOARDS

Rim Trail - Elect 1

Lionel "Marty" Martinez 49

Steven Lee Emerson 47

STATE ELECTION RESULTS

Representative Dist. 4 - Elect 2

Jake Flake 25,394

Debra Brimhall 22,603

Claudia Maestas 19,266

Phil Martin 17,177

Corporation Commission

Slot that expires 2007 - Elect 1

Marc Spitzer 622,651

Sandra Kennedy 556,537

Edward Zajac 49,851

Slot that expires 2005 - Elect 1

Bill Mundell 618,084

Barbara Lubin 547,095

Ray Price 66,516

State Senator

Jack A. Brown Unopposed

NATIONAL ELECTION RESULTS

U.S. Senate - Elect 1

Jon Kyl 982,214

William Toel 99,210

Vance Hansen 98,272

Barry J. Hess 64,423

U.S. Representative - Elect 1

J.D. Hayworth 165,045

Larry Nelson 99,693

Richard Duncan 8,118

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