City Council races head to the finish line - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

City Council races head to the finish line

July 31st, 2022 SanTan Sun News
City Council races head to the finish line

By Ken Sain
Managing Editor

Ruth Jones’ bid to upset incumbent Mayor Kevin Hartke in Tuesday’s election is a true underdog affair while the race to fill three other seats on City Council pits an incumbent against four challengers.

Hartke, after serving two terms on Council and one term as mayor, has name recognition. He also has a huge advantage in campaign finance funds. And he’s the incumbent. Those three advantages usually lead to victories.

However, not always. There have been a handful of cases where a scrappy underdog has been able to pull off the upset, said his challenger.

“Don’t count me out,” Jones said after second quarter campaign finance reports were filed through July 16th.

Hartke raised only $17,226 in the second quarter of this year, but entered that period with nearly $229,000 in the bank, according to his most recent financial statement. He spent about $28,600 from April 1 through July 16, giving him more than $216,000 going into the final weeks of the primary campaign.

Jones raised the least amount of any of the seven candidates on the ballot who are running for a spot on the Council. She reported raising about $8,900 and headed into the final days of the campaign with a balance of $216.

“It’s not about the money, it’s never been about that,” Jones said. “The reason why I’m going to win is I’ve gone out and talked to the people who live here. I’ve listened, and because I’ve done that, they know I care.”

In the other council races, incumbent Matt Orlando is seeking a second term while members Rene Lopez and Terry Roe are termed out. Lopez is one of six Republicans seeking the nomination in Congressional District 4 to run against incumbent Greg Stanton. Roe is one of the two Republican candidates for the state House in LD12, which covers northern Chandler, all of Ahwatukee, and parts of Tempe and Mesa.

The other council candidates are Angel Encinas, Darla Gonzalez, Jane Poston and Farhana Shifa. The write-in candidate is Cody Hannah, who said he is running to represent a younger, more diverse and more progressive Chandler.

For a look at the backgrounds of the candidates on the ballot and their views on critical local issues, go to and hit the “Election 2022” tab to view their questionnaire responses and opinion columns.

For a candidate to win outright Tuesday, he or she must get just over 50% of the vote based on a complicated formula – meaning some of the council candidates end up on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot.

Orlando has raised the most of the Council candidates, bringing in just under $64,000. Second is Encinas at more than $40,000. Shifa raised around $36,500. Gonzalez brought in about $25,000 and Poston raised more than $22,000. Hannah has not filed a campaign finance report.

The Chandler Chamber of Commerce, Chandler Police and Fire all endorsed Encinas, Orlando and Poston. A lot of Poston’s campaign contributions come from firefighter groups around the Valley.

A Wyoming woman donated $1,000 to Gonzalez’s campaign. A call to Gonzalez asking why a Wyoming woman is interested in the Chandler city election was not returned. She also received a $3,500 donation from former developer Ron Pratte. Shifa and Orlando also received large donations from Pratte, $3,000 each.

The Chandler Chamber endorsed Hartke. However, he did not earn the endorsement of police or fire groups.

Among large contributors, Queen Creek’s Pat Strattmen, owner of the Puro Cigar Bar, donated $5,000 to Hartke’s campaign. The Mayor also received a $6,500 donation from Cheryl Pollack, the CEO of Palm Paradise Corporation.

In addition to voting on the candidates, Chandler voters are being asked if they will support Home Rule for another four years. Proposition 470 determines the city’s budget.

If voters do not approve it, then there will be dramatic cuts – more than $100 million – to the budget to fit a formula that was imposed in the early 1980s. If they vote to approve it, then the City Council will continue to determine the budget free of any restrictions.

Chandler voters have never rejected home rule.

In the legislative primary, there is no contest for State Sen. J.D. Mesnard, who is unopposed in his bid for another term in Legislative District 13, which includes Ocotillo and other parts of south Chandler, Sun Lakes and part of Gilbert.

Five Republicans are duking it out for the two Republican House nominations in LD13. They are Josh Askey, a controller for a large real estate firm; Realtor Liz Harris, who lost her bid for the seat in the 2020 General Election; Ron Hardin, a small-business owner who has served in several county and state commissions and boards; Don Maes, who does not list his occupation on his campaign website; and Julie Willoughby, a mother and HOA president who has been endorsed by GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake.

Besides trying to unseat incumbent Democratic state Rep. Jennifer Pawlik – the only Democrat running in the LD13 House primary – those five Republican hopefuls also are looking to succeed Rep. Jeff Weninger. A former Chandler City Council member as well as legislator, Weninger is running in the GOP primary for state treasurer.

While there is no primary contest for Democrats in the LD13 House races, there is a battle between two Democrats for the Senate nomination. Educator Cynthia Hans and Realtor Michael Morris are competing for the chance to take on Mesnard in November.

Voters can drop ballots off at Chandler City Hall. To find your closest polling station, visit

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