Suzy Tubbs jumped for joy as the first batch of election results were announced Tuesday night.
After 13 hours of standing at the polls Tuesday, meeting with voters and asking them to consider writing her name in for Payson Town Council, she was exhausted.
But when Rim Country Republican chair Gary Morris at 8 p.m. read the results from the county website, she leaped from her chair. She had done something not seen often in Gila County.
She had successfully run as a write-in candidate, winning a four-year term on the Payson Town Council.
She will take her seat in December along with Mayor Tom Morrissey and Councilors Jim Ferris and Chris Higgins, providing the uncounted provisional ballots don’t hold a surprise. About 800 late ballots remain uncounted countywide, perhaps a third of them in Payson.
When she joined the race after the primary election, she knew she had an uphill battle because her name was not on the ballot. She faced Kim Chittick and Hallie Overman-Jackman, who ran in the primary and came in third and fourth respectively. A runoff election was held because neither secured enough votes to take the third seat on the council. Both had run for council before and knew how to campaign.
Tubbs had never run for office, but she surrounded herself with a winning campaign team. They included campaign chair Barbara Buntin (who served as Morrissey’s campaign chair; he won for Payson mayor), Jim Muhr (Janell Sterner’s campaign chair; she won a council seat in 2016) and treasurer Greg Friestad (Morrissey’s campaign treasurer).
After the results were read, Tubbs and Sterner hugged.
Tubbs said she was so thankful for the support she had received from the community during the campaign.
Most touching, she said, that included support from the parents and children involved with Payson Community Kids, a nonprofit that offers after-school programs for underprivileged children.
Tubbs started volunteering with the group in 2002. When PCK’s founder passed away, Tubbs stepped in and became the president in January 2009. She has held the unpaid position ever since.
Tubbs said she saw several former PCK kids outside the polls Tuesday and it was tremendous to know they were giving her their vote.
“I am so happy,” she said.
Morrissey, who was also at the Payson Republican headquarters Tuesday, said he too was “very, very happy” with the election of Tubbs.
“I like her optimism, I like her vision, I like her practicalities and commonalities,” he said. “I like the way she connects with people.”
Morrissey said the council would need that optimism going forward because they “face a big challenge in front of us.”
He said they have the right people with the right motives ready to move the town forward not for personal gain, but truly with the best interests of residents in mind.
He said his top priorities once he takes office are continuing to push for broadband redundancy, helping the homeless and addressing the drug issues that plague the community.
He recently met with Gov. Doug Ducey and former Mayor Kenny Evans on a broadband solution.
“We will get it done,” he said.
Chittick and Hallie-Jackman had both generally supported the previous council, expressed doubts about a ballot measure requiring voter approval of virtually any major project favored by the council and generally favored a $43 million plan to overhaul Rumsey Park to build a pool, community center, ball fields and hockey rinks in partnership with a private prep school.
Morrissey and newly elected councilman Jim Ferris — both strong supporters of the Payson Tea Party — had also both favored the propositions and opposed the park plan.
Tubbs weighed in with Morrissey and Ferris on those issues and stressed those same issues in her campaign advertising.
Ultimately, Chittick and Overman-Jackman split the “establishment” vote, while Tubbs gathered up the support of the same block that had elected Morrissey and Ferris.