With the Nov. 6 election in the books, Scottsdale voters overwhelmingly supported Proposition 420 and the City Council candidates who took hard stances both for and against the citizen-driven initiative to reinforce protection of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve from development.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting and only late mail-in ballots and provisional ballots to count, Prop 420 passed in a landslide.
The prop, which will result in a City Charter amendment requiring voter approval of new development on the city-owned preserve, sailed to victory with 70.55 percent of the vote.
The win did not come as a surprise to Brad Kunde, chairman of the Protect Our Preserve PAC, which supported the proposition.
“We’ve been in the streets since January talking to citizens and we’ve had overwhelming support from the citizens,” he said at an election night party at The Vig in northern Scottsdale. “I am proud of our citizens, who understand the magnitude of this vote.”
The proposition was the most divisive political topic in recent history in Scottsdale and prompted a flood of disparaging character attacks online against prominent figures on both sides of the debate and dueling op-ends in local publications.
In addition to the rhetoric, the debate brought a lot of money into the local election, with political action committees on both sides of the debate bringing well over $100,000 during the campaign season.
“We had the winning message and we were on the right side of the winning message,” said Jason Alexander, a vocal Prop 420 supporter throughout the campaign who organized the NO DDC organization.
The results of the City Council race were inextricably linked to the Proposition 420 issue.
With three open seats on the Council, voters elected incumbents Kathy Littlefield and Linda Milhaven and challenger Solange Whitehead.
Littlefield and Whitehead came first and second in the voting, garnering 25.62 percent and 22.04 percent of the vote, respectively.
Both candidates came out in support of Proposition 420 early and made the issue a significant focus of their campaigns.
Whitehead said the vote and the Prop 420 debate indicated that citizens did not believe the current council reflected their priorities.
Though the City Council race in Scottsdale is officially non-partisan, it is well known that Littlefield is active in the local Republican Party and Whitehead is a registered Democrat. Despite this, the two campaigns coalesced around the Preserve issue and supported one another, even holding joint fundraising events.
“People in Scottsdale woke up, paid attention and voted for people who had their interests in mind,” Littlefield said.
Still, it appears that taking a strong stance on Proposition 420, not just supporting it, was the deciding factor in the council election.
Milhaven, an early opponent of Prop 420 who was an outspoken critic of many prop 420 supporters, also won re-election with 18.78 percent of the vote.
Challenger Bill Crawford, a local businessman, also supported Prop 420 and was outspoken about the fact that he did not receive the same recognition from the pro-420 crowd that Littlefield and Whitehead got. Crawford came fourth in voting with 17.44 percent of the vote.
In a surprise for some, incumbent David Smith, a financial professional who previously served as the city’s CFO, came in last with 15.93 percent of the vote.
Voters in Scottsdale also said yes to Question 1, though by a thinner margin than they passed Prop 420.
The question, which asked voters to approve a 0.10 percent sales tax increase to generate funds for transportation improvements, was approved by just over 53 percent of voters.
That narrow victory is a minor surprise as the question had widespread support from the entire City Council, the Scottsdale Area Chamber of Commerce and many other local organizations.
A dozen of those supporters, including Councilmembers Suzanne Klapp and Guy Phillips and Mayor Jim Lane, gathered at Sip Coffee and Beer Kitchen in Scottsdale on Election Night to wait for returns to come in.
They expressed relief as the early voting returns came in, indicating the sales tax hike would pass.
The tax will allow Scottsdale to generate the funds needed to unlock $170 million in matching funds from MaricopaCounty generated from a countywide sales tax.
The Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board election was less contention us than the City Council race, solely based on the fact that there were only two names on the ballot to fill two open seats.
Patty Beckman received 55.07 percent of the vote and Jann-Michael Greenburg received 42.91 percent of the vote.
Write-in candidates, including Christine Schild, a former SUSD board member who filed as an official write in candidate, picked up just over two percent of the vote.
The blue wave did not come to Scottsdale with Republicans easily picking up all three open seats in LD 23.
In the Arizona Senate race in the district, Rep. Michelle Ugenti-Rita, a Scottsdale Republican, garnered over 58 percent of the vote to Democratic challenger Daria Lohman’s 37.49 percent.
Independent Chris Leone picked up just over four percent of the vote.
In the house race in LD 23, incumbent Jay Lawrence, a Scottsdale Republican, and Sen. John Kavanagh, a Fountain Hills Republican, each won seats.
Kavanagh led the way with just under 37 percent of the vote and Lawrence earned 33.61 percent.
Challenger Eric Kurland, a Scottsdale Democrat and teacher propelled to the ballot by the Red for Ed movement, lost with just over 29 percent of the vote.
Democrats faired better in the heavily Democratic LD 24, which includes parts of southern Scottsdale and Phoenix.
In the state Senate race, Rep. Lela Alston, a Phoenix Democrat, easily won with 70 percent of the vote over challenger Vicki Alger.
In the house race in the district, Democrats Jennifer Longdon and Amish Shah each won seats handedly, garnering about 40 percent of the vote apiece.
Republican David Alger picked up 20.48 percent of the vote in that race.