Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Safford Vice Mayor Richard Ortega holds the door for volunteers bringing election ballots to the Graham County Election department at the General Services Building to be tallied.
Kouts re-elected as Safford Mayor
By Jon Johnson
SAFFORD – The votes are in and here is a list of the local races and state results that directly affect Graham County. For a total of all of Graham County’s election results click here and for the total results for the state click here. Voter turnout for the state was about 30 percent.
Graham County Election Director Hannah Duderstadt said the election went smoothly and no glitches or irregularities were reported. Out of 18,501 registered voters, the evening tallied 7,036 total votes cast for a voter turnout of about 38 percent.
Safford City Council
Safford Mayor Jason Kouts sought his third consecutive term and was challenged by former three-term mayor Chris Gibbs, who Kouts upended in 2016 after forcing the decision to the general election. That year, Kouts defeated Gibbs by about 159 votes. During the previous election in 2014, then-incumbent Gibbs defeated then challenger Kouts by about 16 percentage points.
On Tuesday, Kouts retained his seat by besting Gibbs with 1,229 votes compared to 789 for Gibbs as of Wednesday morning. .
“I am extremely honored to continue being the mayor of Safford and to accept the responsibilities that your trust has entitled me to,” Kouts told the Gila Herald and posted on social media. “I am boundlessly grateful for the votes of the citizens who empowered me to continue to serve them and represent our amazing city of Safford. My life has forever been changed by being a small part of a fantastic team of influencers and leaders. I plan to continue to move our city forward. As we contemplate these critical times, we will take what we’ve already learned and will continue moving forward and capitalizing on new opportunities. We will see the many projects that are in the pipeline finished and confront the issues that lie ahead, courageously, and victoriously. I want to thank my campaign manager and my family and friends for their unending support.”
Three seats on the Safford City Council were up for grabs, with incumbents Richard Ortega, and Michael Andazola Sr. joined by newcomers Patrick Anderson, Dusti Brantner, Brad Hemphill, and Michael Marble. Former Safford City Council Member Chris Taylor’s empty seat was the third open spot. The seat had been vacant since Taylor resigned from his position.
The unofficial results from the election have the two incumbents keeping their seats with Richard Ortega scoring the most with 1,130 votes, followed by Andazola with 1,021 votes. Joining them on the council will be Brad Hemphill, who seemingly just got enough with 885 votes.
The other candidates, Dusti Brantner (819 votes), Michael Marble (616 votes), and Patrick Anderson (487 votes), did not secure enough votes to make it on the council.
Candidates needed at least 829 votes as the total numbers currently stand to be elected in the primary.
For the city and town councils, a candidate must get 50 percent plus one of the vote to be elected in the primary. With three open seats, a candidate must get 50 percent plus one of one-third of the total votes cast.
Graham County Board of Supervisors
Three republicans – Preston Alder, Aaron Allen, and John Howard vied to take the reigns from retiring Supervisor Jim Palmer.
Howard was victorious with 1,333 votes, followed by Alder with 851 votes and Allen with 433 votes as of Wednesday morning. There is no Democratic challenger in the general election.
Paul R. David ran unopposed for District 1 and will not have a Republican opponent in the general election. Danny Smith (R), and Nicholas Nordran-Tellez (D) ran unopposed for their respective parties’ nomination for District 3. They will face each other in the November general election.
Graham County Sheriff
Preston “P.J.” Allred was challenged by Gregory Brown.
Allred handily won re-election with 4,475 votes to just 549 for Brown.
The rest of the county’s candidates all ran unopposed, including Assessor Darlene Alder, Recorder Wendy John, School Superintendent Donna McGaughey, Treasurer Mary Bingham, and new County Attorney L. Scott Bennett.
Thatcher Town Council
The Thatcher Town Council had four open seats and four candidates who ran unopposed – Randy Bryce, Eduardo Carlton, Ashley Smith, and Mark Vining.
Pima Town Council
The Pima Town Council had three open seats and three candidates ran unopposed. Joining incumbents C.B. Fletcher and Sherrill Teeter is Lucas Hoopes.
Arizona State Candidates
On the Republican side, Daniel “Demand Daniel” McCarthy sought to unseat incumbent Martha McSally.
Gila Herald’s projected winner: Martha McSally
McSally ran away with the Republican nod.
On the Democrat side, Mark Kelly ran unopposed.
Kelly will now face off against McSally to attempt to turn Arizona blue with both its senators being from the Democratic Party. In the 2018 general election, Kyrsten Sinema made history by becoming the first woman elected to the Senate in Arizona and also became the state’s first Democratic senator in 30 years by narrowly defeating McSally, who was then appointed to fill the late Senator John McCain’s seat.
U.S. Representative District 1
On the Republican side, Nolan Reidhead and Tiffany Shedd sought their party’s nomination, while Democrat incumbent Tom O’Halleran had a primary opponent in Eva Putzova.
Gila Herald’s projected winners: Tiffany Shedd; Tom O’Halleran
While Reidhead narrowly took Graham County by about 100 votes, it wasn’t enough and Shedd will be the Republican nomination for the House in CD-1.
Democrat incumbent Tom O’Halleran got his party’s nod to continue in his current position. He will now face off against Tiffany Shedd in the general election Nov. 3. O’Halleran took Graham County with 1,079 votes compared to 657 for Putzova.
The State Senator and State House of Representatives races are all unopposed in the primary.
This article was updated Wednesday to include the counting of additional early and provisional ballots.