Rusing, Orr win Prescott council seats
Third seat could go to Nov. 5 run-off; Mengarelli, unopposed, easily wins re-election
Outdistancing her nearest competitor by more than 3,000 votes, City Council challenger Cathey Rusing termed her win on Tuesday a “mandate” from the voters.
Rusing received 11,425 votes out of the 15,622 ballots cast, easily winning a City Council seat outright in Prescott’s Aug. 27 primary.
At her campaign celebration at Thumb Butte Distillery Tuesday evening, Rusing said voters had delivered a message to the city — that the current City Council is too “pro-growth and pro-development.”
“This was a mandate, a landslide,” said Rusing, who had voiced support throughout her campaign for the position of “Save the Dells,” the organization that is pushing to preserve 500 acres in the heart of the Granite Dells from the development that is being proposed near the Point of Rocks.
Rusing said the Save the Dells effort had inspired her to run because it showed her the “disconnect” between the city and the will of the people.
Joining Rusing in winning a seat outright in the primary was Prescott Mayor Pro Tem Billie Orr, who received 8,273 votes. Also winning easily was incumbent Mayor Greg Mengarelli, who ran unopposed, and received 96.4% of the vote for the mayor’s position.
After the unofficial results were announced by the Yavapai County Recorder’s Office at about 7:20 p.m. Tuesday, Prescott City Attorney Matthew Podracky reported that the council candidates needed 7,721 votes to garner a majority and win outright in the primary.
Although the number of questioned and uncounted ballots was still to be determined Tuesday night, Podracky said Rusing and Orr had met the majority-vote threshold needed to win outright.
The two other City Council candidates — incumbents Steve Sischka and Jim Lamerson — appear to be headed to a run-off in the Nov. 5 General Election to decide the third open council seat. But with Sischka only 164 votes short of the needed majority, the third seat was too close to call Tuesday night.
After the vote was announced at the four incumbents’ campaign celebration at the Gurley Street Grill Tuesday night, Orr she was “thrilled and very thankful to win” the seat outright, and to have four more years on the City Council.
Still, she said she had “mixed feelings about the results, because I know how hard everyone worked.”
On the Granite Dells issue, Orr said, “I think we all want to save the Dells — it’s just how we make it work, and in a fair way. But we’re going to save the Dells.”
Incumbent Steve Sischka, who received 7,557 votes, said he was “disappointed to see a special interest group with so much money” sway the election.
While noting that the results “point out that a lot of people are concerned about what happens in the Dells,” Sischka maintained that there was “a lot of misinformation” in the community about what would happen if the city did not annex the Granite Dells property into city limits.
Lamerson, who received 5,555 votes, said his longevity on the council might have contributed to his showing in the primary.
“I tried to do something that has never been done in the city,” he said, noting that he was running for his fifth four-year term — a feat that no council member has ever achieved in Prescott. “It is what it is,” he said of the results.
In remarks to the crowd after the results were announced, Mengarelli said it has been “a privilege to lead” the community over the past two years, and he commended the incumbents for their work on the council over the years. “We didn’t get the outcome for (the incumbents) that we wanted,” Mengarelli said. But he added, “The voters have spoken, and I want to congratulate Cathey Rusing and Billie Orr.”
A total of 15,622 registered voters cast ballots in the mail-in primary — for a 51.27% response rate.
The results were termed unofficial Tuesday night, and the county is expected to release “unofficial final” results after a three-day period for allowing voters with questioned ballots to fix or “cure” their signatures. County officials say the unofficial final results could be released by late Friday or early Saturday, Aug. 30 or 31.
To view Tuesday night's returns, click HERE.