Update, Tuesday evening: Here are the newest totals released this afternoon. According to County Recorder Leslie Hoffman, "Results are updated on line. We have 23 cure ballots that will be tabulated if remedied by 5pm on Friday, with new update on Saturday.
“Thank you so much,” Cathey Rusing said after finding out the results of last night’s primary election. Receiving 11,425 votes, Rusing had the highest vote count on the entire ticket, even receiving more votes than Mayor Mengarelli, who ran unopposed. Rusing’s results meet the 50%+1 threshold needed to win outright in the primary.
Cathey Rusing huddles over a monitor displaying the election results.
Calling her victory a “mandate,” Rising pointed to some key issues that she believes are important to the voters in Prescott:
- Growth and Development
Although Rusing is a registered Republican, her victory does not appear to be related to party politics. She had high level support from within both parties and also local organizations. In short, she won by building a truly non-partisan coalition. Rusing’s endorsements included:
- Toni Denis, Former President of the Yavapai Democratic Party
- Noel Campbell, LD1 Representative
- Save the Dells
- Prescott Good Governance (they also endorsed Billie Orr)
Video by Making a Scene Productions
In addition to Rusing’s decisive victory last night, Councilwoman Billie Orr also received enough votes to win outright in the primary.
Councilmen Steve Sischka and Jim Lamerson are likely headed to a runoff, although there is a chance that Sischka could receive enough votes in the additional ballots being processed to cross the threshold.
Last Night’s Numbers
Ballots issued: 30,660 (according to Laurin Custis, Program Administrator, Voter Registration, Yavapai County Recorder’s Office)
Total ballots accepted: 15,622 - 51.27%
Prescott Mayor total votes: 10.260
Greg Mengarelli: 9890, 96.39%
Write-in 370 - 3.61%
Prescott Council Members
3 Open Seats
Total Votes: 32,969
Jim Lamerson: 5,555 - 16.85% (of the total vote)
Billie Orr: 8,273 - 25.09%
Cathey Rusing: 11,425 - 34.65%
Steve Sischka: 7,557 - 22.92%
Write-In: 159 - .48%
More ballots were received Tuesday, and they have not all been processed yet. So, these numbers will adjust, although the general outcome is not likely to change.
Video by Making a Scene Productions.
If someone doesn’t vote for a candidate, it’s considered an “undervote”. Or, in the case where there are several positions, and only one candidate is chosen on a ballot, that is also an undervote. Voting for one candidate, when you could vote for more than one is also called a “Single Shot.”
Pushing to “single shot” a candidate is not a new concept, but it is seldom carried out as effectively as it appeared to be in this campaign.
While Cathey received over 11K votes, the undervote in this Council election was even higher at 13,714. Mayor Mengarelli could have received over 15K votes, but there were over 5K in undervotes.
In 2017, the undervote was also high at 12,978, but there is no indication that it benefited anyone. In 2015, it was even higher, but there were only 3 candidates for 3 seats. So, is it as significant this year in 2019 as people might assume, or are we seeing a developing historical trend for people to decide to vote for only one or two candidates on the ballot?
Is this election the highest vote count in recent Prescott history? Is it the highest percentage turnout in recent history? Are these the highest undervote numbers in recent history? The answer to all those questions at this time is NO (depending on how many more ballots are outstanding).
So, while this election is certainly significant, perhaps it is not as unusual as it may seem on the surface.
Historically, city races in Prescott have had strong voter turnout.
2017, Primary Election
29,156 registered voters, 17.227 ballots cast, 59.09% turnout
Greg Mengarelli had a large margin of votes over opponents Mary Beth Hrin and Jean Wilcox, but it wasn’t enough for a Primary win. He was forwarded to a runoff with Jean Wilcox, in November, 2017. Mengarelli won by about 10%.
2015, Primary Election
26,352 registered voters, 15,250 ballots cast, 57.87% turnout
Harry Oberg squeaked past Dan Fraijo by 192 votes, but still had enough to secure a Primary win.
2013, Primary Election
26,173 registered voters, 13,063 ballots cast, 49.91% turnout
Once again, Marlin Kuykendall easily received enough votes (56.59%) to win in the Primary over opponent Lindsay Bell.
2011, Primary Election
25,541 registered voters, 12,397 ballots cast, 48.54% turnout
Marlin Kuykendall easily won re-election, with 53.74%
2009, Primary Election
26,549 registered voters, 13,771 ballots cast, 51.87% turnout
Marlin Kuykendall, with 7,365 votes (55.56%), ousted Jack Wilson, and defeated Glenn Gooding. (Jack received the least amount of votes.)
2007, Primary Election
36,113 registered voters, 16,751 ballots cast, 46.38% turnout.
Jack Wilson bested Rowle Simmons by a margin of 142 votes.
Sedona had a fire question they voted on, and Williamson Valley had a recall election that year, so the number of registered voters is higher than it would be if it were just the City of Prescott voters.
What Happens Next
The rest of the ballots received by 7 PM on Tuesday night will be processed, tabulated and added to the totals. After that, if Councilman Sischka does not receive enough votes to put him over the 50%+1 threshold, he and Councilman Jim Lamerson will have a runoff for the final seat in November.
Stay tuned for further information!
Video by Robert Milligan.