The suspense is palpable as politicians seeking Scottsdale’s elected office play the waiting game while voter ballots are counted from the Aug. 4 primary election to know who made the cut for November’s general election.
In some cases results may determine who has won outright — and automatically won a seat atop the City Hall dais — such as City Council candidate Betty Janik, who is the sole candidate to approach reaching the legal majority of votes needed.
The field of candidates campaigned all spring and summer to be one of Scottsdale’s leaders. While votes were officially due on Tuesday, a final outcome is unknown until every last ballot has been counted.
Official results are not expected until next week, officials say.
Five people were running to become Scottsdale mayor; while nine people sought three open seats for City Council. Any candidate who wins their election will be sworn in during January.
Although Maricopa County voters are still waiting on official primary election results, it is likely council candidates Bill Crawford, Michael Auerbach and Kevin Maxwell did not garner enough votes to compete for a spot in November’s election. Depending on the final results, either four or six candidates will move on to the general election.
For the mayor’s race, David Ortega and Lisa Borowksy look likely to face off in the general election.
“I don’t see that changing,” said Scottsdale resident Brion Neeley-Ryder, who serves as first vice chair for the Legislative District 23 Democrats.
Two candidates, Bob Littlefield and Virginia Korte, each would need to close a 500-vote gap to knock Ms. Borowsky out of the election.
Maricopa County Records Office spokeswoman Jessica Del Rincon says it will be a week before the election is certified.
“We expect to finish tabulating by this weekend, but we will still have provisional results we will be processing. The Board of Supervisors will canvass the election on Aug. 14,” Ms. Del Rincon said.
Ballots take time to count, using a labor-intensive procedure to verify signatures on envelopes and then opening them to process the actual ballot.
Maricopa County had about 76,000 mail ballots dropped off on Election Day, and also needed to process about 20,000 mail ballots it received Monday, according to published news reports.
The remaining ballots could determine who will move on to the Nov. 3 general election.
In the coming days, changes could still occur within the primary election, one political aficionado says, however some scenarios appear more unlikely than others.
As it stands now, Ms. Janik, who garnered the most votes in the Aug. 4 primary election for Scottsdale City Council, could be elected outright; while the race for mayor will most likely be between David Ortega and Lisa Borowsky — who received the most amount of votes to be Scottsdale’s next mayor.
The candidates who earn the right to be elected outright, or move onto the general election, is determined by a calculation of dividing all the votes garnered by how many open seats there are; then dividing that in half, which is why all vote tallies are needed to know the threshold of moving on in the election.
As of Aug. 7, Ms. Janik garnered the most votes with 30,399; Ms. Caputi has 29,311; and Mr. Little is in third, trailing with 25,429. The majority vote threshold needed to be elected outright, with the total number of ballots currently, is 30,389.
The fourth-place candidate is Tom Durham, who isn’t far behind Mr. Little with 24,837 votes.
Following Mr. Durham, the votes drop off significantly, as incumbent Guy Phillips has the fifth-most votes with 16,327.
“Tammy Caputi is close, but she lost a little ground with last night’s update, so I don’t think she’s going to make it as an automatic elected — and that’s really hard to do in a nine-person race,” Mr. Neeley-Ryder said.
Mr. Neeley-Ryder disclosed at the start of the conversation that his husband, Jon Ryder, owns a campaign consulting firm who worked with Scottsdale candidate John Little. Mr. Neeley-Ryder specified all opinions expressed are his own, and separate from any campaign work his husband is involved in.
“If Janik holds and she’s elected outright — there would be four candidates who would go through to the general [election] for the remaining two slots,” Mr. Neeley-Ryder explained.
“If Janik doesn’t get automatically elected, then the top six would go through — two candidates for every one city council slot.”
Mr. Neeley-Ryder pointed out some interesting historical information about primary elections:
“We went back 20 years to city elections that had a primary, and the top three in the primary have all gone in to win the general,” he said.
“So that gives a big advantage to Caputi and Little — versus Durham I think is still in it — Phillips trails so badly, if you look at the totals. The difference between Caputi and Durham, which is No. 2 to No. 4, is about 4,000 votes. But the difference between Durham and Phillips is about 8,000 votes.”
Mr. Neeley-Ryder also says for the mayor’s race, “I don’t think anyone predicted that.”
“No one predicted that result,” he said emphatically. “I think what happened is, I mean, if anyone told me that Bob Littlefield wasn’t in the first Top 2 and Klapp was last, I would have laughed at them.”
He pointed to Ms. Borowsky’s self-funded campaign, having spent very little contribution funds.
“With essentially one democratic-leaning candidate, and four republicans, she got the least negative attention of anyone,” he said. “I think that’s what did it.”