In the Nov. 7 general election, voters will choose between current City Councilwoman Jean Wilcox, and current PUSD School Board President Greg Mengarelli to serve as Prescott’s new mayor. Mengarelli and Wilcox were the two top vote-getters in this year’s Aug. 29 primary, which featured a three-way race for mayor. Current Mayor Harry Oberg announced early in the campaign season that he would not seek a second term.
One incumbent and four newcomers will vie for three seats on the Prescott City Council this fall. After an August primary in which none of the candidates gained a majority, all six were poised to go on to a runoff in the Nov. 7 general election. Within about a week, however, incumbent Greg Lazzell withdrew from the field, leaving five candidates – Phil Goode, Alexa Scholl, incumbent Steve Blair, Connie Cantelme, and Joe Viccica – to run in the general.
Prescott has not had a runoff election for mayor since 2005, when then-incumbent Mayor Rowle Simmons came out on top in a general-election matchup with challenger Lindsay Bell. The two had been the top vote-getters in a four-way September 2005 primary race and went on to a runoff in the Nov. 8 general. A decade earlier – in 1995 – mayoral newcomer Paul Daly won a general-election runoff with Ron Barnes. The two had been the top vote-getters in that year’s September primary, which featured a three-way race. Since 2005, Prescott’s mayoral races have been decided in the primaries, and no runoffs were needed – until this year.
About 59 percent of Prescott’s registered voters participated in the Aug. 29 primary – a percentage that is a near record in the city. It failed to reach the 67-percent mark achieved in Prescott’s first mail-in-ballot primary in 2001. That year, 12,400 voters cast ballots in the city primary, nearly doubling the 7,500 votes cast in the previous city primary in 1999.
Ballots going out
The Yavapai County Recorder’s office is sending out ballots today, Oct. 16, to 60,307 voters countywide. Of those, 28,560 will go to Prescott voters for the Mayor and City Council general election. Another 19,088 ballots will go to Verde Valley voters for school-related budget override questions, and 12,659 will go to Sedona voters for a bond question.
Plenty of places to vote
Yavapai County Recorder Leslie Hoffman and Registrar of Voters Laurin Custis say registered voters should begin receiving their ballots in the mail by Wednesday, Oct. 18. If they have not received them by Monday, Oct. 23, registered voters should call 928-771-3248. Ballots are due back to the county by 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7. To ensure delivery, voters should mail their ballots by Nov. 1. For those who wait, drop-off ballot boxes are available at: the County Administration Building, 1015 Fair St. and Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez St. Locations are also available in Camp Verde, Clarkdale, Cottonwood, Jerome, and Sedona. Hoffman and Custis encourage all voters to use the drop boxes, noting that it saves the county postage.
Candidate gender and age
2017’s general poses the possibility of electing the city’s youngest council member in recent memory, and the first female mayor since the 1980s. Council candidate Alexa Scholl began the campaign this past spring at age 19, and recently turned 20 – younger than the election ages of former council members Charlie Arnold and Ken Bennett, who were both in their 20s when elected to the council. Prescott’s last (and only) elected female mayor was Geraldine Wagner, who served two terms – one from 1975 to 1977, and another from 1985 to 1987.
Mary Beth Hrin endorsement for Jean Wilcox
Mary Beth Hrin, the conservative candidate who was narrowly eliminated in Prescott’s August mayoral primary, formally endorsed Councilwoman Jean Wilcox for Mayor in early October. In her statement, Hrin praised Wilcox’s experience and integrity.