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Something in the Air

Happy Independence Day! Early Voting Starts Next Week!

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Arizona's primary election is right around the corner.

Arizonans who are used to a late August primary may be surprised to learn that Arizona lawmakers have moved the date to the first Tuesday in August to give candidates a little more time to reload ahead of the Nov. 3 general election.

The primary election is on Aug. 4, which means early voting starts next Wednesday, July 8. If you're on the Permanent Early Voter List, you'll get a ballot in your mailbox. (And be sure to pick it up before the roving bands of kids can swipe it and turn it over to the Antifa/K-pop mob.) If you're not on the Permanent Early Voter List, you can request an early ballot by calling 520-724-4330 or visiting recorder.pima.gov. If you'd prefer to vote in person before Aug. 4, County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez has set up a number of early voting locations you can find on her website.

The deadline to register to vote in the primary is Monday, July 6.

The winners of next month's primary races will be the candidates on the ballot in November.

This week, we're rounding up the county races, outside of the contests for the Board of Supervisors, which we tackled a few weeks back. Thanks to a bunch of retirements and the untimely passing of Pima County Supervisor Richard Elías, Pima County will see a changing of the political guard. At the very least, there will be two new county supervisors, a new county attorney, a new county recorder and a new county assessor. In upcoming weeks, we'll bring you more details on these races and others.

Pima County Sheriff: Republican Mark Napier managed to win heavily Democratic Pima County four years ago after a procurement scandal erupted around Sheriff Chris Nanos, a Democrat who was appointed the seat in 2015 as heir apparent to Clarence Dupnik, who stepped down after 35 years in office. Rather than use the office as an anti-immigration platform (as some Arizona GOP sheriffs such as Joe Arpaio and Paul Babeu have done), Napier has charted a more moderate approach. This year, Nanos—who had served as a member of Dupnik's command staff since 1997—is looking for a rematch against Napier, but first he has to win a Democratic primary against Kevin Kubitskey, who has a two-decade career with the Sheriff's Department and who has served in the leadership of the Pima County Deputy Sheriff's Association.

Pima County Attorney: One of the marquee races on the primary ballot is the three-way Democratic primary that will decide who takes control of the Pima County Attorney's Office as Barbara LaWall retires after 24 years as the county's top prosecutor. Two deputy county attorneys from LaWall's office, Jonathan Mosher and Mark Diebolt, are in the race, as is defense attorney and former public attorney Laura Conover. Mosher has LaWall's endorsement in a race that normally has candidates talking about how tough on crime they will be, but with the national mood shifting toward criminal justice reform, Conover may be the candidate that Democratic voters see as the most likely to bring change to the office.

Pima County Recorder: With F. Ann Rodriguez retiring after seven terms as Pima County's chief keeper of records, two Democrats are running for the office. Kim Challender brings experience to the job as the current assistant chief deputy in the office, while Gabriella Cázares-Kelly, an organizer with Indivisible Tohono O'odham, brings an activist's passion to the job of managing Pima County's voter rolls and early balloting. Challender has the endorsement of Rodriguez, but Cázares-Kelly has many friends among the party's activist base, who are more likely to turn out in a primary.

"Now, more than ever, the integrity and safety of our elections is of the utmost importance," Challender said. "The Recorder's Office manages the voter records and the early voting process along with recording documents like land transactions. This is an important office that touches everyone in Pima County in some way. I have the experience, expertise, and passion needed to move the office forward while allowing for a smooth transition into 2021."

Cázares-Kelly said she decided to run because she wanted to remove barriers to voter registration.

"My interest in this office began when I started registering voters during my lunch breaks and after work in the Tohono O'odham community," she said. "I immediately realized that there were many unseen barriers to voter registration and early voting that resulted in frustrated and often disenfranchised voters. I have been particularly concerned with rural voters, those who live in tribal communities, latinx voters, college students who are often discouraged from voting, elders who struggle with Voter ID laws, the disabled community and people with felonies who are often unaware of their rights. I'm running to make sure we are meeting the needs of our most vulnerable community members and to bring the office into the 21st century."

The winner of the Democratic primary will face Republican Benny White, a longtime GOP activist who has served on the county's Election Integrity Committee.

"I want to improve citizen confidence in election results," White said.

Pima County Assessor: Democrat Bill Staples is stepping down after three terms running the office that determines property values for taxing purposes. Three Democrats are vying in the August primary: Brian Johnson, Dustin Walters and Suzanne Drobie. No Republican filed to run.

Pima County Treasurer: As she seeks a sixth term, Pima County Treasurer Beth Ford is facing Democrat Brian Bickel, who ran an unsuccessful campaign against Pima County Supervisor Ally Miller four years ago. No primary race.

Pima County Superintendent of Schools: Democratic incumbent Dustin Williams did not draw any challengers who filed nominating petitions, although Green Party candidate Michael Cease is running as a write-in candidate.

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