Ready, set, go! Early voting begins this week - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Ready, set, go! Early voting begins this week

July 13th, 2020 development
Ready, set, go! Early voting begins this week

By Kevin Reagan, Staff Writer

As early voting is set to begin this week for the Aug. 4 primary election, voter registration numbers in Chandler appear to be on an upward trend.
Early voting for three seats on Chandler City Council – as well as in county and state races – starts July 8 and the latest registration numbers suggest there could be greater civic participation in this year’s local elections.
There is no school board primary and candidates have until July 6 to file petitions to get on the Nov. 3 ballot.
At least 12,000 more Democrats, Republicans, and independent voters have recently registered in Chandler’s two legislative districts within the last year, according to data maintained by the Arizona Secretary of State.
Registered Republicans still hold a combined majority in Legislative Districts 17 and 18, but the number of new Democrats registering in Chandler has been outpacing the opposing party over the last couple years.
Between April 2018 and April 2020, nearly 17,000 Democrats registered in the Chandler area while 4,800 Republicans were added to the voting rolls. Registered independents only grew by about 2,700 during this same time span.
This growing Democratic presence has earned Chandler the reputation of a potential “swing” city that could help determine some of the statewide and regional races.
In 2018, several of Chandler’s precincts narrowly helped U.S. Sen. Kyrsten Sinema defeated her Republican opponent, Sen. Martha McSally. McSally was appointed to fill a portion of the late Sen. John McCain’s term and is running this year to finish the remaining two years of it.
District 17 also elected its first Democrat, Jennifer Pawlik, to the State House in 2018.
But the party numbers won’t make much difference in determining who gets elected to fill three seats on the Chandler City Council – especially since they are nonpartisan races.
Incumbent council members Mark Stewart and Jeremy McClymonds face challengers from one former council member and three newcomers.
Stewart, who owns a digital marketing company, is seeking a second term with a political platform that presents him as a “budget watchdog.” He’s been endorsed by the Chandler Chamber of Commerce.
McClymonds, who was appointed to fill an empty council seat in 2018, is running his first campaign this year on a platform that emphasizes economic development and fiscal responsibility.
Rick Heumann, who served on the council from 2009 to 2016, is attempting to win his old seat back; the city’s term limits prevented him from serving a third consecutive term.
He’s relying on his extensive experience in local governance as a major selling point to win over voters, noting he also chaired the Chandler Chamber’s Public Policy Committee for several years.
Heumann has already earned the endorsements of the Chandler Chamber, Professional Firefighters of Arizona and Chandler Law Enforcement Association.
OD Harris, an entrepreneur and military veteran, is entering local politics for the first time this year with his bid for one of council seats.
Harris has received endorsements from state Rep. Jennifer Jermaine, D-Chandler, and former Vice Mayor Martin Sepulveda. He said he’s committed to supporting Chandler’s after-school programs and providing more affordable housing for the city’s residents.
Councilman Sam Huang, whose first term expires at the end of this year, chose not to run for reelection and is instead competing for the Republican nomination in Arizona’s 9th Congressional District race — an area presently represented by Democrat Greg Stanton.
The council’s current all-male status could potentially change this year with the addition of a female presence if either Beth Brizel or Christine Ellis win enough votes in the primary election.
Brizel is a local business owner and former member of Kyrene School District Governing Board. She’s been endorsed by the Chandler Chamber, the Chandler Law Enforcement Association and the Arizona Conference of Police and Sheriffs.
Ellis has worked in the assisted-living industry for several years and promises to foster new relationships between Chandler and the higher-education community.
It’s unclear what type of impact the COVID-19 pandemic might have on Chandler’s voter turnout, but election officials have begun taking steps to ensure residents will still be able to easily submit their ballots in a safe environment.
Maricopa County is allowing voters to ignore precinct rules and cast their ballot at any polling place they want.
Several sites will be open during the two weeks leading up to Election Day on Aug. 4, which will allow citizens more time to vote in the evenings or on weekends.
“We had always planned to provide voters with precinct voting for the August primary,” said County Supervisor Clint Hickman, “but COVID-19 has required us to alter our initial plans in order to safely serve the voters.”
County elections officials expect more than 600,000 ballots to be cast early during the primary election, which is prompting administrators to take extra precautions with how each ballot is being tabulated.
All poll workers in the county will be expected to wear masks and gloves and voters are asked to do the same when visiting a polling location.
The county has created a new online portal where voters can quickly and easily request a mail-in ballot.
“Our goal during this election cycle is to make voting at home easier and in-person voting safer for voters who choose to do so,” said County Recorder Adrian Fontes.
One of Chandler’s only contested, partisan primary races is for justice of the peace in the San Tan Justice Court. Republican Sam Goodman, who’s presided over the court since 2004, is being challenged by former state legislator Warde Nichols in the primary. There are no LD 17 or 18 primary battles.
Maricopa County Supervisor Jack Sellers, who represents the district encompassing Chandler, has no one challenging him this year for the Republican nomination.
Democrat Jevin Hodge – son of Tempe Union Governing Board President Berdetta Hodge – intends to run against Sellers in November’s general election.
Registered voters have until July 24 to request a mail-in ballot and the last day to vote early in person will be July 31.

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