Surprise voters were leaning toward city council candidate Nick Haney as ballots continued to be counted this week.
Haney competed with Raymond Grim and Lew Guyn to represent Surprise’s sprawling District 1, which covers the city’s northernmost reaches.
“Obviously I’m very grateful for the amount of people who cast their vote in support of our vision,” Haney said on election night.
The first-time candidate thanked his family and supporters, including fellow first responders. Haney is a firefighter and paramedic in Glendale, and a large portion of his campaign donations were from firefighters.
He planned to continue to watch as the results rolled in this week.
After the polls closed on Tuesday, county election officials released the results from early ballots cast in the weeks leading up to the election, a sizable chunk of the tally in a county where more than three-fourths of voters typically vote early. They also released results from in-person voting on Tuesday. For the remainder of the week, their focus was on counting early ballots dropped off on election day and provisional ballots.
To win outright in Surprise, a candidate must get more than 50% of the vote. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters compete in a runoff election in November. Grim was the second highest vote-getter as of Wednesday.
Grim said whichever way the race plays out, he will continue serving the community in every way he can.
“If Nick Haney does end up being the final winner, I will do whatever I can to help him and to support the city,” Grim said. “It’s about the city, it’s not about the election.”
Surprise’s other two races were uncontested. Incumbents Chris Judd in District 6 and Jack Hastings in District 5 were assured reelection as neither faced challengers. In nearby Glendale and El Mirage, city races also lacked competition. Peoria will see a competitive mayoral and council race, but not until November.
In Youngtown, voters were leaning toward incumbents to fill three of the four seats that were up for grabs on Tuesday.
Haney’s campaign boosted by firefighter donations
Haney would be Surprise’s youngest council member. Hastings, a teacher who was first elected to council two years ago, is 28. Haney is 27.
Haney grew up in Surprise and was a member of the city’s youth council.
“It’s always great for a city council to reflect the community it’s supposed to represent,” Haney said. “I’m no stranger to working with a diverse group of people to solve complex problems, and I look forward to it.”
Haney said he hopes to form a coalition with the rest of the council and elected leaders across the Valley to solve problems facing Surprise and Arizona as a whole.
Haney brought in far more campaign donations than his competitors — largely from firefighters and firefighter associations that frequently donate in local elections.
He raised more than $45,000 in campaign donations during the election cycle, with nearly $40,000 coming from firefighters and others in public safety, according to campaign finance reports.
Grim, who owns an insurance agency in Surprise, raised just under $6,500 and Guyn raised about $3,500, according to their filings.
District 1 sprawls across 73 square miles making it the city’s largest council district by far. While all of Surprise is evolving as it approaches 150,000 residents, District 1 includes the least established parts of the city. An area where you can still find dirt roads and where commercial amenities haven’t kept pace with rooftops.
The district was assured new representation because councilmember Roland Winters wasn’t on the ballot.
The Arizona Republic asked the candidates to answer questions about issues facing Surprise.
Youngtown’s competitive race a point of pride
Youngtown — a community of less than 2 square miles tucked along Grand Avenue — boasted the northwest Valley’s busiest council race. Nine candidates competed for four town council seats.
Youngtown Mayor Mike LeVault viewed the competition in his town of about 7,000 residents as a point of pride. “I’m always interested in the most number of people being involved in their government because it makes it a better government,” he said.
Jim Starke was leading Bernadette Labat on Wednesday in a close race for a two-year council seat.
In the race for three council seats with the traditional four-year terms, the top vote-getters as of Wednesday were incumbents Margaret Chittenden, Karen Haney Duncan and Mike Francis.
The Republic asked the candidates to answer questions on issues facing Youngtown.
While Tuesday’s election included high-profile races for governor and U.S. Senate, local government is where it’s at for LeVault. It’s where elected representatives make decisions that directly impact people’s quality of life from roads and parks to public safety.
“If you want to have an impact on government you’re more likely to do that at the local level,” LeVault said.
No competition in Glendale and El Mirage
In Glendale, councilmembers Jamie Aldama, Lauren Tolmachoff and Bart Turner were unopposed for reelection.
In El Mirage, Mayor Alexis Hermosillo and councilmembers Monica Dorcey, Anita Norton and Donna Winston also were unopposed.
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