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Wide Margins

Remember when people thought the Ward 3 race would be close? It wasn't.

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The Democratic slate easily won reelection in this week's Tucson City Council election. In fact, the most intriguing development at the Democrats' jubilant victory lap of an event might have been the choice of Sonoran hot dogs from BK's rather than El Guero Canelo.

Although three to four thousand votes remained to be counted, incumbent Council members Richard Fimbres and Karin Uhlich held leads larger than the number of uncounted ballots over their Republican challengers, while Ward 6 Councilman Steve Kozachik was unopposed.

Uhlich was ahead of Republican Ben Buehler-Garcia, 58 percent to 41 percent, in the Ward 3 race. This race was expected to be at least somewhat closer, considering Buehler-Garcia only narrowly lost to Uhlich four years ago.

"We were singled out from the get-go. Everything was thrown at us," Uhlich said at the Democratic Party's election-night celebration at downtown's Riverpark Inn. "We won and we won big, and that means we're on the right track."

Fimbres was holding a similarly commanding lead over Republican Mike Polak, 60 percent to 39 percent, in the Ward 5 contest.

"We moved this city forward," said Fimbres. "Lots more needs to be done. We're not out of the tunnel yet, but we're moving forward."

Although more than 65,000 ballots were returned to the city via mail, thousands were turned in at polling locations on Election Day. Those ballots will be counted later this week once they have undergone a signature check by the Pima County Recorder's Office.

The Republican candidates, in front of a small crowd at the Tucson Mall Sir Veza's location, remained hopeful, despite the fact that the basic math of the remaining ballots was not on their side.

"In Tucson, you never concede until the vote actually is done," said Buehler-Garcia. "It's hard for me to say because of my concern about the turnout. We have to look at the numbers and take some time to assess them."

Mike Polak held out a similar bit of hope. "I'm going to wait until the end, because there are lot of ballots that haven't been counted yet," he said. "We're going to keep a positive attitude and hopefully more votes will come in."

Two ballot propositions are nearly certain to have passed.

Proposition 401, which would increase the city's spending cap, was being supported by 62 percent of voters, while Proposition 402, which will update the city's general plan, was being supported by 66 percent of voters.

For Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, the apparent success of these measures and the reelection of all three councilpersons are encouraging signs. "This is an affirmation of what we've been doing for the last two years," said the Mayor. "We're going to keep this team in place and get better from here on out."

In other elections around Pima County:

• 57 percent of voters in Vail rejected formally incorporating the community into a town.

• The Sunnyside School District's pitch for a budget override was losing early, with 53 percent of voters rejecting the proposition.

• Two budget overrides in the Catalina Foothills School District seem set to pass, with 62 percent (Prop. 406) and 64 percent (Prop. 407) voting yes.

• 60 percent of voters rejected a budget override in the Altar Valley School District.

A final count of ballots in those contests is expected to be completed in the coming days.

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