Despite no final results, Chandler Council races appear over - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Despite no final results, Chandler Council races appear over

September 5th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Despite no final results, Chandler Council races appear over

By Paul Maryniak, Executive Editor

Chandler voters appear to have returned two incumbents to City Council while a former member and a hopeful who lost a bid two years ago appear poised to claim the other two open seats.

A resolution of Tuesday’s races by six candidates for four council seats was stymied by a slow count by the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, pushing final unofficial results passed the SanTan Sun News’ deadline.

But by Thursday morning, unofficial and incomplete results indicated that Vice Mayor Rene Lopez and Councilman Terry Roe won new four-year terms and Matt Eberle and Matt Orlando will be joining them.

Meanwhile, with all votes counted by the Arizona Secretary of State in statewide and legislative races, fall campaigns have been set in the two legislative districts that cover Chandler.

In LD17, former Councilwoman Nora Ellen and incumbent Rep. Jeff Weninger, another former Chandler Council member, secured the Republican nominations for State House, leaving Julie Willoughby out in the cold. Ellen is seeking a seat vacated by her termed-out son, J.D. Mesnard, who had no Republican primary opposition in the LD17 Senate race.

The House Speaker will face off against Steve Weichert to fill the vacancy created by retiring Sen. Steve Yarbrough. Ellen and Weninger will be vying for two seats with Democrat Jennifer Pawlik.

In LD18, Republicans nominated incumbent Ahwatukee Rep. Jill Norgaard and Tempe lawyer Greg Patterson, who is seeking a return to the House, where he served two terms in the 1990s. They defeated Chandler businesswoman Farhana Shifa and retired Tempe programmer Don Hawkins.

In the Democratic primary for House in LD18, Chandler management consultant Jennifer Jermaine and incumbent Rep. Denise “Mitzi” Epstein of Tempe bested Chandler executive baker LaDawn Stuben.

In the LD18 Senate race, neither party had a primary contest, setting up for a rematch of the 2016 battle between incumbent Ahwatukee Democrat Sen. Sean Bowie and Tempe commercial airline pilot Frank Schmuck.

Eberle on Thursday morning told supporters he appeared to be “within one-third of one percent” of overtaking Orlando as the third highest vote getter.

“With thousands of ballots to still be counted, we believe that our incredible ground game, hard-working volunteers, advertising in every local publication, a large and strong mail campaign, social media messaging to all of Chandler, and team work with current council members seeking re-election has made a marked difference. Given the huge odds of defeating such an entrenched politician, we are clearly in position for an ideal outcome at this stage of the race,” Eberle wrote in an email.

But Orlando, who has served two separate eight-year terms on Council, still appeared to have won his bid for a threepeat.

Plagued by Election Day snafus that kept some voters outside Chandler from voting, the County Recorder has not been reporting the number of ballots still to be counted.

However, its most recent update showed Lopez and Roe virtually tied with each garnering 20 percent of the vote, and Orlando and Eberle each with 18 percent, according to unofficial and incomplete results. William Crawford pulled 14 percent and Aaron Harris 10 percent, according to those results.

Crawford in a statement said, “While we await the final outcome, we are prepared for either outcome.”

“I am thankful to the all of those who cast their vote for me, volunteered on my campaign, and to those who I met along the campaign trail. It has been my greatest honor to stand for election to serve the people of the City of Chandler,” Crawford added, declaring:

“This is my first political campaign and it was been an amazing experience. Whatever the outcome, my wife, Diana and I remain committed to Chandler and fighting for those issues and ideals we discussed during the campaign. We will remain engaged and help build a Chandler where every family and business can grow and prosper.”

The Chandler City Clerk was hoping final unofficial results would be announced Friday. (Go to for the latest information.)

Amid continuing uncertainty because of a slow tally of Tuesday’s votes, the outcome of one election is a certainty: Chandler will have a new mayor in January.

Pastor and former Councilman Kevin Hartke had no opposition in his bid to replace termed-out Jay Tibshraeny and his tally far outdistanced total votes for any single council candidate and almost matched the combined total votes cast for Lopez and Roe, according to unofficial and incomplete results.

Hartke at press time had garnered over 26,000 votes.

Orlando in an email told supporters, “I am extremely confident of a win.”

“We held a 300 plus vote lead throughout the evening,” he said. “The early ballots (mailed) and the poll votes were uncannily identical in percentages for the candidates…I haven’t seen those two data points track so closely. I am assuming the Vote by Mail ballots that were turned in at the polls will match the percentages we witnessed.”

Asked if he had ever seen such a slow ballot count, Orlando said he recalled only the first time Chandler went into a consolidated election cycle at the beginning of this century.

“We waited for days to determine if anyone had a 50-percent-plus-1 vote count to determine a winner,” Orlando recalled. “The outcome was I missed winning in the primary by a handful of votes. So, all six of the original candidates were forced into the general election. Later the legislature changed the formula to determine a winner.”

In the legislative races, the state Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee released a statement identifying both Chandler districts as among five districts “targeted” for flipping to Democrats.

The Arizona chapter of the National Organization of Women simultaneously named Pawlik one of four legislative candidates in the state that it was endorsing.

“Jennifer Pawlik is an elementary teacher with a masters in education and expertise in curriculum development. She is just what is needed for our perennially troubled education system,” NOW said in a release.

Terry Roe, Matt Eberle, Matt Orlando, Rene Lopez