Julia Gusse Andre LaFond
The race for a general election runoff against Amber Liermann is between incumbent councilwoman Julia Gusse, left, and challenger Andre LaFond. Photos by Merenzi Young / Eye of Odin Studios

The third seat on city council will be contested by two candidates who have never held office if the results through Saturday hold when the last few votes are counted Monday.

Incumbent Julia Gusse, who had been hanging onto a spot in a November runoff for the third seat on council, slipped in the latest count to fifth place – by 12 votes – and, for now, out of the running. She is a two-term member of council, winning election in 2010 and again in 2016.

A late surge by political neophyte Andre LaFond put him past Gusse and into the runoff with another newcomer, Amber Liermann. With counting suspended until Monday, Liermann leads the group seeking the third seat with 3,374 votes (16.11%) followed by LaFond with 3,275 (15.64%) and Gusse with 3,263 (15.58%).

It would appear Liermann, in her first campaign for public office, has her place in the Nov. 3 runoff locked down.

Gusse will have to wait until Monday to see if she can make up the dozen votes she trails LaFond.

LaFond may be as surprised as anybody he is still in the race. On Wednesday, in a post on Facebook, he wrote: “So sadly it looks like our campaign has come to an end. I want to thank all my supporters.”

The Pinal County Elections Office said it has about 182 provisional ballots and a handful of early ballots left to process. The count will resume Monday. The counters went into Saturday morning with about 3,000 early ballots and the same number of provisional ballots left to tally.

The first two seats were captured in Tuesday’s primary election by incumbent Nancy Smith and challenger Bob Marsh. Smith is the leading vote-getter, with 4,257 (20.33%) followed by Marsh with 3,956 (18.89%).

The sixth candidate, Linette Caroselli, has 2,735 votes (13.06%).

Mayor Christian Price was unopposed in his bid for re-election.