In an election full of attack ads, conflicting campaign claims, elusive ballots, and low voter turnout, Glendale voters made only one change to its city council with the results of the Aug. 30 primary.
Mayor Jerry Weiers won a slim re-election over former Fire Chief Mark Burdick, while voters returned Joyce Clark to her seat, representing the Yucca District four years after losing to Samuel Chavira.
Weiers was re-elected by 405 votes over Burdick, while Clark squeaked by with a 46-vote win over Chavira.
“The bottom line is, our campaign ran a legal, honest campaign and we didn’t lie to anyone,” Weiers said. “We were victorious, because I believe our honesty rang true with voters, but it is a shame that campaigns happen like that and I am thankful it is over and we can now move on and continue our forward goal for the city.”
Burdick and Weiers each ran different, but expensive, campaigns.
Burdick spent $79,146 prior to the Aug. 18 campaign finance reporting deadline. Weiers spent $58,894, but had more than $60,000 left in his campaign headed into the last two weeks of the campaign, while Burdick had $12,500 remaining. But voters made their voice heard.
“I think the message was an honest message and I do not think the voters were torn at all,” Weiers said.
Clark, who lost to Chavira in 2012, is eager to return to represent citizens.
“The voters have spoken and I am honored to return to council,” Clark said. “I am delighted to represent Yucca district residents once again, as are they. I could not have won without their enthusiastic support. I have pledged to them to do my very best in representing not just Yucca district residents, but all Glendale residents.”
Clark, who was outspent in the race by Chavira nearly five-to-one, pulled out one of the closest victories in recent years.
“The voters have spoken and their message is that they deserve and expect their councilmember to do the job,” Clark said.
Neither Burdick nor Chavira had officially conceded as of Sept. 12, and neither returned phone calls or responded to questions about the election.
“I am excited and delighted to be of service to my community again,” Clark said. “I am ready and eager to begin and I know that it requires a major time commitment and I am prepared to be a full-time councilmember.”
The election made more national news for all the wrong reasons, when it was discovered that some polling places were not opened as scheduled and there was a device containing votes left overnight, unattended, at a polling place.
The votes were recovered the following morning and Elizabeth Bartholomew, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office, said, “a memory pack,” or device that holds data from a polling place machine, was left at Don Mensendick Middle School.
Bartholomew said it took them hours to reach the poll worker at Precinct 513, who said he thought he had returned it with the other election materials. She also said the votes were secured in a locked room and believes they were not tampered with.
Glendale City Clerk Julie Bower emailed candidates the morning of Aug. 31, telling them, “I have just been informed by the county that the ‘missing’ precinct was locked up in the school overnight and has now been retrieved. The county will be updating the results page once the information has been uploaded.”
Clark, who responded by email to Bower, was “concerned, as I suspect all other affected candidates are, about the integrity of these ‘missing’ ballots.”
“I think the public is entitled to a full explanation of this incident,” Clark said. “If protocols were not followed, what remedies will be implemented to prevent a future occurrence?”
Clark recently added that she is not expecting any challenges to the results and Weiers also said he doesn’t believe there is any legal issue to challenge.
“Challenge what?” Weiers said. “The fact is the machine was still sealed and verified and based on any other voting machine, there was no discrepancy. I believe it is fruitless (to challenge) and there is a point where you have to understand that it is time to do what is right for the city.”
Other reports said numerous voters went to Glendale High School to vote after 9 a.m. and the polling place was not open. It opened about an hour later and there were no other issues at the location.
“At GHS, it just opened late and I know that voters called my office and told us, but they went back and voted and there was no other issue,” Weiers said.
Chavira’s campaign manager Ben Scheel said they were still watching the results and debating their next step.
“We knew it was going to be a tight race and I think we are surprised to see such a close race,” Scheel said. “We know that both Chavira and Clark have different bases of support and they were loud about their candidates, so the early results are not surprising to a point.”
Scheel said his group is concerned about all votes being counted.
“At this point, we are following very closely and we will keep all our options open,” Scheel said. “We have spoken to an attorney, but are not calling for anything at this point. We just want to make sure all the votes are counted and after the final votes are posted, we will examine everything closely and make our decision.”
While he stopped short of calling for an investigation of the missing ballots, he did suggest the county recorder’s office had let voters down.
“The fact that the county recorder’s office would be careless in the sense that we all knew this would be a tight race, shows how the recorder has failed to serve to the standards that most voters expect.”
Councilmember Ray Malnar, who was elected to replace former councilmember Gary Sherwood in the Sahuaro District recall election in November, and Vice Mayor Ian Hugh of the Cactus District ran unopposed and were re-elected.
In the only proposition on the ballot in Glendale, voters easily approved the city’s general plan, titled “Envision Glendale 2040,” with nearly 71 percent casting a yes vote.
“Glendale voters approved the citywide general plan update,” said Glendale Planning Director Jon Froke. “I’d like to thank everyone along the way who made this happen, the planning consultant and staff at Matrix Design Group, planning staff, general plan steering committee, planning commission, city council, and finally, Glendale voters.”