Mayoral candidates Ken Murphy and Jim White will square off in a May 21
runoff election after neither managed to gain a majority in Tuesday's
White outpointed Murphy 1,627 to 1,297, but fell short of the 1,806 votes
necessary to earn the required 50.1 percent. White finished with 46.5
percent of the votes cast, Murphy with 37.1 percent, while Diane Sexton, who
got just 576 votes, was eliminated with 16.5 percent.
Meanwhile, council candidates Judy Buettner and Dick Reese were elected to
two open seats on the council with 1,923 and 1,909 votes respectively.
The third council seat will be determined in the May 21 runoff election with
Kenny Knapp facing Robert Henley. Knapp finished third with 1,779 votes,
while Henley finished fourth with 1,521 votes.
Council candidates Andy Kaiser (1,421 votes) and John Wilson (1,057) were
Proposition 300, commonly referred to as Home Rule, passed easily with 73.9
percent of the vote.
Proposition 301, which would have required fire sprinklers in certain
structures, was defeated by a solid two-to-one margin.
The bond issue for street improvements went down to the wire, before
narrowly being turned down by a margin of just 32 votes.
There were nearly as many winners' and losers' parties across town as there
were candidates. But as it turned out, the only two shoo-in winners of this
election, new Town Councilmembers Judy Buettner and Dick Reese, both
received the news of their victories at Fargos Steakhouse.
"Im excited," Buettner said. "It was a good turnout, which Im happy
about." Was she even happier that she wouldnt have to participate in the
May runoff? "Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!," she exclaimed. "You bet!"
"Im feeling pretty good," Reese said. "We were looking forward to some
results. Of course, we werent certain, but we were comfortable and we did
what we needed to do .... Did we do them all right? I don't know. But I feel
very pleased with the results and I'm honored to serve."
Henley, reached at home, said he was surprised that his runoff opponent will
be Knapp. Both candidates were endorsed by the Citizens Awareness Committee.
"Of all the matchups, that wasn't one I anticipated," Henley said. "But we
do have different views, and I look forward to getting back out there and
talking to the voters."
Knapp could not be reached for comment.
The mayoral-race celebrations were a bit more muted, as candidates Ken
Murphy and Jim White could only celebrate the opportunity to engage in two
more months of campaigning.
"I hope it dont get dirty like it did the first part of the campaign,"
White said as the party at his home wound to a close. "I hope the next part
we can get along and at least campaign on the issues ... I'm happy it turned
out at least this way for me ... I think people voted for me simply because
they were tired of the dirty politicking."
"It's the process," Murphy said, shrugging off the need for a runoff as he
mixed with supporters at the Mogollon Grill. "... I think that over the next
two months, people will find out who the best person to lead this town into
the future is going to be... No candidate that I have run against has
challenged me on the issues. They have simply taken some of the personal
things in my life, and used them to discredit me. In my opinion, they are
really not pertinent ... and have nothing to do with the issues."
Sexton left Town Hall to join supporters at the Beeline Cafe after results
from the first two of four districts showed her losing.
"Im disappointed, but Im still with the people," she said
Despite what many considered a negative mayoral campaign, 40.8 percent of
the towns registered voters cast ballots. District 1 led the way with a
68.1 percent turnout.
Although grumblings echoed across the Payson landscape about a mayoral race
marred by mudslinging, nary a voter interviewed while exiting the Town Hall
precinct thought the 2002 campaign was particularly negative.
And all said that they entered the booth knowing who they want in office -
as opposed to who they want to keep out.
"I dont have to vote for the lesser evils this year, necessarily," said
Gary Vohs, who added that the candidates' sometimes controversial campaign
methods "aroused interest. They may not have been the cleanest, but it seems
like anything that arouses interest in an election is a good thing."
"I think all three of the mayoral candidates did a good job in expressing
how they would run the town," Denise Turner said. "All three covered the
issues and how they would resolve them, so I was very satisfied. I'm not
casting any negative votes in this election; Im voting for the best men and
women for the job."
According to Ruth Ann Anderson, mudslinging is just the name of the game in
"Theyre all the same," she said. "It was a little overdone in this
election, maybe. But thats all right. It wasnt enough to make me cast any
Wendy Wright, however, was not quite so accepting.
"From what I saw, there was a lot of mudslinging, and that bothered me,"
Wright said. "I don't like it when someone starts talking badly about
someone else. But I dont know that it had any effect on my vote. I just
chose the most qualified candidates."
So did Marvelene Cleeton.
"I walked in knowing exactly who I want to win," Cleeton said. "I didnt
vote against anyone."
Not everybody felt the same. A total of 110 voters chose not to vote for any
of the mayoral candidates.