Phoenix

Fountain Hills election shows party politics seeping into local races

Candidates and local officers mentioned they’ve by no means seen something like this year’s “vitriolic” election in Fountain Hills, a small city of 25,000 individuals within the Phoenix space’s northeast Valley the place races are usually low profile and amicable.

The mayor’s seat and three council positions had been on the Aug. 2 poll, with former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio spending large quantities of money in an effort to take the highest spot from incumbent Mayor Ginny Dickey, and 4 candidates — three conservatives and one liberal — vying for the council seats. 

It bought ugly when some right-wingers sought to determine a conservative majority, portray their left-wing opponents as “communists,” “leftists” or extremists regardless of the election being for positions that require the winners to largely oversee non-ideological points comparable to zoning and street restore.

The race bought so heated that a whole offended viewers was eliminated throughout a candidate discussion board earlier this year, when GOP council candidate and former Illinois state Rep. Allen Skillicorn referred to as his opponent, Cindy Couture, a liar earlier than implying that she and different “liberals” had been “ignorant.”

Fountain Hills’s departure from amiability to hostility marks one other occasion of party politics coming into into “nonpartisan” local races. It’s a shift for the conservative-majority city the place voters have hardly ever balked at electing Democrats up to now. 

Cindy Couture lost her bid to win a seat on the Fountain Hills Town Council in the Aug. 2 election.

“This year’s race was vitriolic. It was horrible,” mentioned Couture, a 72-year-old retired English trainer who lost her race and was branded as a far-left radical due to her Facebook posts about prosecuting “anti-vaxxers” and Democratic Socialism. “I mean, it didn’t belong in Fountain Hills. We are a nicer community than this, but they wanted to win at all costs.”

A political motion committee referred to as Reclaim Our Town, or ROT, spent 1000’s on indicators that depicted Dickey as a puppet grasp main the city to catastrophe and included slogans comparable to “leftists ruin towns.”

Conservative candidate Brenda Kalivianakis, who gained a seat on the council, mentioned she didn’t assist ROT’s unfavorable campaigning and “did her own thing,” whereas candidate Hannah Toth and Skillicorn, who wont the opposite two council seats, joined the PAC in taking swings, getting firmly behind the push to safe a partisan majority.

Incoming Councilmember Allen Skillicorn

“I am only running because the current liberal majority does not represent the values of our conservative town,” Skillicorn advised The Arizona Republic. 

Dickey was labeled a “leftist” due to her reference to Couture, whose bid for Town Council she supported, though Dickey believes she’s ruled in a nonpartisan approach.

Complaints from the PAC and Republican council candidates about Dickey’s management largely centered round extra materials points, just like the city’s 4 “sober homes” — which a number of officers mentioned sparked the will to flip the Town Council — guidelines about how companies can show indicators, and COVID-19 mitigation measures that ended final year. 

By the time the election was over, the conservative candidates had secured the bulk they had been after. They are slated to exchange Councilmembers Mike Scharnow and David Spelich, each Republicans, and Allen Magazine, a Democrat. The latter two mentioned they selected to not run for personal causes.

Former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio

Dickey narrowly defeated Arpaio regardless of “America’s toughest sheriff” spending an unusually excessive amount of money within the small city’s race. He spent greater than $160,000 — roughly thrice that of all the opposite Fountain Hills candidates mixed and 600% greater than Dickey’s practically $27,000. 

Arpaio has vowed to not concede; nevertheless, he was recycling debunked voter fraud allegations from 2020 and saying he’ll discover authorized challenges — one other occasion of local races mirroring the troubled state of nationwide politics.

“I’m waiting to confirm with a lawyer,” he advised The Republic when requested if he was going to problem the outcomes. “I will say one thing: I am not going to concede.”

Incoming Councilmember Hanna Toth

Whether the election in Fountain Hills is a canary within the coal mine for the longstanding observe of nonpartisan local elections in Arizona communities, one of many city’s latest local leaders mentioned it is already useless or by no means actually existed in any respect. 

“Nonpartisan or not, every single candidate for public office has a party behind them,” mentioned Toth, the second-highest vote getter within the Town Council race. “In a lot of ways, I think we were kidding ourselves to believe otherwise.”

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