Originally Published: September 1, 2016 5:53 a.m.
It appears that Prescott Valley voters are happy with the direction the town is headed after reelecting all four incumbents to the Town Council in the Tuesday, Aug. 30, primary election.
The results are unofficial and subject to change, but with 100 percent of precincts reporting councilmembers Mary Mallory (3,373 votes), Lora Lee Nye (2,752), Marty Grossman (2,688) and Vice Mayor Rick Anderson (2,744) were the leading the nine-candidate field, according to results posted by Yavapai County Elections.
“I don’t really know why people vote the way that they do,” said Craig Arps, one of the challengers. “When you go out and talk to them they’re frustrated, especially over the tax increase. People are frustrated with the system, but they keep voting for the same people.”
One council member expected this to be a much closer election because of anger over a half-penny sales tax increase last year.
“I’m obviously very pleased to be returned and make a difference in the community,” Nye said. “There were moments when I had those concerns, I like the others have been very faithful, very industrious, and very, very careful about any decisions that we made. I’m a little surprised and very delighted.”
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 (21,140), divided by the number of open seats (4), divided by two. Round that number up and that is the number of votes needed to be elected. That number according to the unofficial results is 2,643. All four incumbents surpassed that total.
Also, Prescott Valley voters approved the Home Rule Option, which allows the town to maintain control over its own spending limits, by a 76.3 percent to 23.7 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.
The Town Council approved a half-cent sales tax increase last year to fund road improvements and increases in the police department’s budget. That increase became the top topic of the council election.
PV Police Chief Bryan Jarrell was criticized for his public comments about the election, saying he was concerned by remarks from a couple of candidates that they wanted to rescind the sales tax increase and what it might mean for his department.
“In all the forums that I attended, I never heard anyone call for rescinding the sales tax,” Arps said. “Joey [Cilano] and I are in favor of lower taxes, but we wanted to tackle it from the spending side. And once we got spending down as low as we could, then see if we could afford to lower taxes.
“No one, to my knowledge, wanted to cut funding to the police department.”
Nye said she originally opposed the sales tax increase.
“One of the reasons I changed my mind and went ahead and voted for it [the tax increase], is because of how many resident I knew who said it was the right thing to do,” Nye said. “I knew we’d pay the price for doing the right thing, but isn’t that what we were elected for?”
All four incumbents are reelected for a new four-year term.