2 elected to council, 3rd seat up in the air

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Nancy Smith Bob Marsh 2020 Primary
Incumbent Nancy Smith and challenger Bob Marsh secured seats on Maricopa City Council on Tuesday.

The woman who felt fortunate and blessed to be vice mayor during COVID-19 was the top vote-getter in Tuesday’s city council election.

Nancy Smith and newcomer Bob Marsh have apparently been elected outright to two of the three available seats. Three candidates, including incumbent Julia Gusse, are in a close battle for the two slots advancing to the general election.

“Of course, I’m delighted,” Smith said. “It makes me feel good that the voters understand how much I love working on the city council and working for the residents and businesses. It makes me happy that people get that and understand that.”

Though there was some contention Tuesday over the formula used to determine how many votes a candidate needed to be elected outright, the current numbers stand up either way for Smith and Marsh.

“That feels really good,” Marsh said. “I can take my signs down.”

Early numbers show Smith with 20.49%. Marsh won some precincts from Smith and currently has 19.21%.

Under one formula, a candidate would have needed half of a third of the total ballots cast plus 1. Under the other formula, as explained to candidates by City Clerk Vanessa Bueras, they needed half of the number of ballots cast for the mayor. Smith and Marsh surpassed both marks in the early statistics and await the final tally. Mayor Christian Price ran unopposed and, so far, has 4,666 votes.

Marsh, a candidate in 2018, said he felt his previous experience on the Planning & Zoning Commission, Board of Adjustment, the zoning code rewrite plus 20 years in development won over voters this time.

“The fact I didn’t just read the General Plan, I wrote most of it, I think that got some respect,” he said.

Beyond the usual feedback about State Route 347, economic development and more restaurants, Smith said seniors liked what she did for seniors and younger voters liked what she did for the youth like the Boys & Girls Club, Be Awesome and the Rocket Challenge.

“And small businesses like the fact that if they have a concern or a question or something that’s challenging for them at the City, I can help move that along,” she said. “People were just expecting me to continue doing that.”

Amber Liermann Maricopa City Council candidate
Newcomer Amber Liermann was sitting in third place Tuesday night in the race for Maricopa City Council. Photo by Kyle Norby

In the contest to qualify for the general election in November, Amber Liermann took a late lead (15.91%) over Gusse (15.82%) and Andre LaFond (15.67%)

Gusse said campaigning this year was uniquely difficult, especially with so many new people in town and standard events being canceled because of COVID-19. But she said her constituents knew her service to the City.

If she qualifies for the general election, she will continue to reach out through the next three months, though she said it is unlikely regular campaign events will return in time for the election.

Meanwhile, Smith will be vice mayor until at least December. She said she “had a ball” working with nonprofits like the food banks during COVID and felt fortunate Price gave her the responsibility of that service. If offered the title again for next year, she said she would not turn it down.