Star Valley Challengers Ahead

Although there are still some ballots to be counted, challengers Andy McKinney (left) and Bob O'Connor appear to have won seats on the Star Valley Town Council.

Although there are still some ballots to be counted, challengers Andy McKinney (left) and Bob O'Connor appear to have won seats on the Star Valley Town Council. |

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Preliminary tallies suggest two Star Valley council members lost their seats on Tuesday, although at least a hundred ballots remained uncounted at press time.

The big winners on Tuesday appear to be challengers Bob O’Connor and Andy McKinney.

Incumbent Paty Henderson also appeared to have enough votes to avoid a runoff, rounding out the top three.

Incumbent Vern Leis placed fourth, although it’s possible the late-counted ballots could enable him to overtake McKinney.

Assistant Gila County Manager Jacque Griffin said there were 47 mail-in ballots dropped off at the polling place on Tuesday and at least 51 provisional ballots voted at the polls.

In addition, the county hasn’t yet counted a large number of mail-in ballots posted between Friday and Tuesday. Voters could also drop off ballots or vote at the county recorder’s satellite office in Payson.

Nonetheless, she didn’t expect the additional ballots to change the results. “It would be a statistical anomaly if the remaining ballots changed the outcome,” Griffin said.

The earliest unofficial results of the Star Valley town council election show of 947 votes cast — residents could vote for up to three council candidates — challenger Bob O’Connor received 218 (23.02 percent); incumbent Paty Henderson received 200 votes (21.12 percent); and challenger Andy McKinney, 189 (19.96 percent).

Incumbent Vern Leis had 158 votes (16.68 percent); challenger Jeff Provencher, 98 votes (10.35 percent); and incumbent Del Newland, 83 votes (8.76 percent); with one write-in ballot cast.

While the outcome of the election remains uncertain until the Gila County Board of Supervisors formally accepts the canvass of the vote on Sept. 2, O’Connor said, “I was happy through the whole process. It was a good experience for me. If the outcome stays the same, I am looking forward to working with the council and town staff. We have a great staff here. And I look forward to working with the community.”

“I’m flattered,” said Henderson, the one incumbent to triumph in the primary. “I’ve tried to look out for the people and this shows I have. Now we will move forward.”

Challenger McKinney said he is looking forward to serving the people of Star Valley.

“I am confident the relationship with Payson will continue to improve and I am delighted Mayor McDaniel will continue to lead,” he said.

The Star Valley Home Rule measure was approved with 229 votes to 44. Only 273 ballots voted on the issue.

Ronnie McDaniel was unchallenged for the post of Star Valley mayor and received 332 votes, with two write-in votes cast.

Griffin said Star Valley has 1,711 registered voters.

A provisional ballot must go through a verification process before it can be counted.

The county expects to have all the ballots counted no later than Saturday.

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