Originally Published: November 5, 2003 6:10 p.m.
Lamerson, a downtown business owner, will join former Councilwoman Mary Ann Suttles and incumbent Councilman Steve Blair in the swearing-in of new council members later this month. Both Suttles and Blair, along with incumbent Mayor Rowle Simmons, won their seats outright in the September primary by getting more than 50 percent of the vote.
Lamerson and Behnke, who were the next-highest vote-getters in the primary, faced off in the general election in a runoff for the final seat.
The candidates and their supporters gathered at the Yavapai County administration building Tuesday night to hear the results of the mail-in election. By about 20 minutes after the 7 p.m. ballot deadline, the initial results were in. With only about 175 ballots still uncounted, Lamerson was the obvious winner, with a solid 4-percent lead over Behnke.
Lamerson, who had emphasized his small-business background, said that factor may have made the difference with the voters. "I think Prescott is still a small town," he said after the votes were in. "I think I reflect a lot of people in Prescott."
Throughout the campaign, Lamerson also stressed the importance of basic services such as police and fire protection, water, sewer and roads.
Behnke, while acknowledging that those services are important, also emphasized "quality of life" issues that he said are crucial to the community.
Even so, Lamerson maintained that he and Behnke had similar views on many issues. "I never really thought we were that far apart," Lamerson said.
Behnke, who ran an aggressive campaign that pointed out the differences between the two candidates, was philosophical as he left the election headquarters Tuesday night. "The people have spoken," he said. "Life goes on."
He also speculated that the editorial stance in The Daily Courier may have helped to sway the outcome. "Your paper," he said in response to a question about what may have made the difference in the vote. "The paper has been very pro-Lamerson and very anti-Behnke."
Lamerson said he likely will take some time to get his feet on the ground on the council before recommending any changes in policy. "I will spend some time with the city manager and the city attorney," he said.
But he did mention two subjects on which the public can expect to hear from him. "I want a parking garage, and I don't believe in eminent domain," Lamerson said.
During the campaign, Lamerson noted that he differed from the current council on his stand on eminent domain, which he maintains the city should use only when health or safety are at stake or when no other option exists.
In addition, he said: "And I am not a 'yes' person. I don't agree just to show that we all get along."
The final unofficial tally indicated that Lamerson received 5,988 votes to 5,521 for Behnke. The results of the election are unofficial until the City Council canvasses the vote on Nov. 12.
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