Originally Published: September 1, 2016 6:01 a.m.
Chino Valley voters appear to be happy with the direction the town is headed after the six incumbents were headed toward being reelected to the Town Council in the Tuesday, Aug. 30, primary election.
The results are unofficial and one Chino Valley precinct had not been reported, so it’s subject to change. Vice Mayor Darryl Croft held a 56.6 percent to 43.2 percent lead over Robert McCaullay in the race to replace Mayor Chris Marley, according to results posted by Yavapai County Elections.
“I’m not surprised I won because I had more name recognition,” Croft said. “Mr. McCaullay ran a good campaign. For a guy who just started, he did well.”
There were only three candidates for three four-year seats on the council. Incumbents Jack Miller and Susan Cuka, who were appointed to their seats after resignations last summer, and newcomer Annie Lane, a member of the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission, were all elected.
“It was very easy, for me, having three people running for three seats,” said Miller, who so far earned the most votes. “I didn’t even put out signs. … But I do appreciate all the votes that I got. I love working with this council, everyone’s respectful, gets along, everybody talks, everybody listens. It’s been a good experience, a very good experience, or I wouldn’t have run.”
In the race for the three two-year seats on the council, incumbents Lon Turner, Mike Best and Corey Mendoza all were leading with the one precinct still to be tabulated.
“We have a good town council now and we want to keep that up,” Croft said. “We have a new person, a young person coming on board in Annie [Lane], and I think that will really help us to get that perspective.”
The State of Arizona changed the formula for how candidates can be elected in the primary election, making it easier for them to avoid a runoff. The previous formula was the number of ballots in the election (remember each voter votes for more than one candidate), divided by two, plus one.
The new formula is total votes cast in the race (4,172), divided by the number of open seats (3), divided by two, according to Chino Valley Town Clerk Jami Lewis. Round that number up and that is the number of votes needed to be elected. All four candidates were on pace to exceed that total, meaning the top three would be elected.
Also, Chino Valley voters approved the Home Rule Option, which allows the town to maintain control over its own spending limits, by a 68.8 percent to 31.2 percent margin. If voters had rejected Home Rule, it would have meant the town would be limited to an amount based on a formula in the state constitution that would have meant drastic cuts to services.
Voters must approve the Home Rule Option every four years. Only once in Arizona history has a community not approved it, and that was Florence in 2014.
In addition to the missing precinct in Chino Valley, Yavapai County Elections officials also are counting provisional ballots, write-ins, and early votes so results could change.