Sydney Richardson, Tucson Local Media
Kelly Lawton and Margaret Burkholder at the Republican party on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2015.
Three Democratic Tucson City Council members have been re-elected.
After early ballot numbers started coming through at around 8 p.m. on Election Day, Councilwomen Regina Romero and Shirley Scott, and Councilman Paul Cunninghman, already had a decent lead over Republican challengers Bill Hunt, Margaret Burkholder and Kelly Lawton. As of 2 a.m., all ballots—early and from the polls—have been counted, showing Romero and Cunninghman each with around 57 percent of votes, and Scott with roughly 55 percent.
At last night's Republican party, the GOP trio was hopeful, even with a few thousands votes behind. Pima County Republican Party Chairman Bill Beard said they expected ballots to be counted through the end of the week, and that the numbers weren't final yet.
"We are optimistic. I think the people of Tucson are going to change their landscape," Lawton told the Weekly last night, adding that he would run for a City Council seat again. "Everyone I have met, regardless of party affiliation, they wanted change. They see the same city that you and I see, and the concerns. The issues we are facing are not partisan issues. They are quality of life, standard of living issues."
The first thing Lawton would have wanted to fix is the city's budget, which he called a big mess. The millions in shortfall and debt, "gives you an idea of how fiscally irresponsible we are," he said. "As a city we need to get our arms around our budget, our pension, our transit...the list goes on.
He told the crowd at the party that he, Burkholder and Hunt are committed to making life better in Tucson—that they are citizens like everyone else, interested in being surrounded by a thriving economy.
Burkholder told the Weekly she believes a lot of people are watching this race closely to decide what their future in Tucson is. If things don't change, "I see people leaving," she said. "Tucson is heading toward bankruptcy. We need courageous and competent decision-makers." She, too, would run for office again.
"I look around this room and I see people who have invested in us," she told the party goers. "There is nothing special about three people. There is something special about the synergy, when a whole bunch of people come together to support something bigger than themselves, and that is what we are trying to do.
Hunt was in and out of the party, because he had the flu and didn't "feel well at all." But he was also hopeful to see the poll numbers benefit the Republicans.
The voter turnout was about 27 percent. Of 564,716 registered voters in Pima County, only 155,168 participated in the election.