For LaFond, concession then celebration after late surge

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Andre LaFond
Andre LaFond is a candidate for Maricopa City Council. Photo by Victor Moreno

 

Andre LaFond thought his chances of joining Maricopa City Council were over on primary night.

Even as the vote count continued through the week, it looked like he would finish fifth in the six-candidate race. He even posted a concession of sorts on Facebook, writing “So sadly it looks like our campaign has come to an end. I want to thank all my supporters …  And thank you to all the other candidates. Choosing to run for office is never an easy choice.”

But on Saturday, LaFond passed incumbent Julia Gusse to take fourth place and a spot in a runoff election with first-time candidate Amber Liermann.

“Color me surprised,” he said. “I did not anticipate it and I’m very grateful to have those votes (counted Saturday).”

The excitement followed.

“I was a grinning ear to ear,” he said Monday. “I was very happy that I had a chance to move on to the general and hopefully represent the citizens of Maricopa.

After the final count, LaFond had a 15-point margin over Gusse to advance to the General Election against Liermann. His tally was 3,286 to Gusse’s 3,271. Liermann finished third overall with 3,383 votes.

The tight margin between LaFond and Gusse begs the question of a possible challenge. But LaFond doesn’t expect that.

“I’m not inclined to think that she’s going to contest it but I don’t know her views at this point,” he said, “and I’m not going to make any assumptions on what she feels would be appropriate.”

A Maricopa real estate agent and U.S. Army veteran, LaFond said his political ambitions are rooted in growing up in a household steeped in politics and community service. A third-generation Eagle scout, he values service to the community and said serving on city council would be a “wonderful opportunity” to serve the residents.

An injury during a training exercise knocked him out of the Army after just six months. He then built a 15-year career in security. He and his wife, Kaylie, recently welcomed a baby boy, their first.

LaFond ran an unsuccessful campaign for Maricopa constable in 2018, losing narrowly. He has participated in the Citizen Police Academy and joined the Citizens Emergency Response Team.

But LaFond was quick to add that the city council race isn’t about whether you are Democratic or Republican.

“I’m a strong believer that local politics doesn’t need to be partisan,” he said. “We’re about Maricopa here.”

LaFond said it bothers him that partisan politics has been dragged into the city council race.

“I have voters that cross the spectrum, both conservative, liberal and in between,” he said. “It’s not about party affiliation. That’s not what this position is about.”

He already has endorsements from prominent people in both parties, including Democratic councilmembers Henry Wade and Marvin Brown and former Republican councilmember Peggy Chapados. He was also endorsed by the Maricopa Fraternal Order of Police.

LaFond said he doesn’t believe the runoff campaign against Liermann will get personal.

“I’m all about just facts. I’m not looking to attack. I don’t support that,” he said. “I don’t think that we should act that way … unfortunately there are people who do. I welcome debate. I welcome discussing records of community involvement.”

“I don’t hold anything against Amber,” he said. “I believe that she’s interested in doing what’s best for Maricopa. I hope to do what’s best for Maricopa, too.”

That said, he is looking forward to the next 12 weeks of campaigning.

“At the end of the day, it’s about the citizens of the community and it’s not personal,” he said. “However, it comes out at the end of the day, Maricopa is better for it. And I wish her luck.”

If elected, one of his first initiatives will be to assess the needs and wish lists of the police and fire departments. At the same time, he wants to work with the police department to attract new officers and then retain them.

“I don’t want to lose them,” he said.