Both incumbent legislators in the district representing Ahwatukee apparently won a chance to vie for another two years in the State House while a newcomer to electoral politics won the other Democratic nomination and a onetime legislator for his Republican colleagues to give him a shot at returning.
On Thursday, with all ballots counted, unofficial results from Tuesday’s primary election in Legislative District 18 showed incumbent Republican Jill Norgaard of Ahwatukee and incumbent Democrat Denise “Mitzi” Epstein of Tempe led their respective party’s slate of candidates.
Tempe attorney Greg Patterson, who was a member of the State House in the 1990s, won the second slot on the Republican side while Jennifer Jermaine of Chandler, a management consultant to nonprofits, will be the second name on the Democratic ticket in the LD18 House race this fall..
Unofficial returns showed Norgaard with 43.6 percent of the vote in the four-way race for two spots while Patterson had 25.5 percent. They beat Chandler businesswoman Farhana Shifa and retired Tempe programmer Don Hawker, who 18.6 percent and 12.4 percent of the vote, respectively.
On the Democratic side, LaDawn Stuben of Chandler drew the short straw in the three-way race by garnering 18.5 percent of the vote to Epstein’s 43.6 percent and Jermaine’s 38.7 percent.
There was no primary contest for the LD 18 Senate nominations. Tempe Republican Frank Schmuck will be seeking a rematch with the man who beat him in 2016, Ahwatukee incumbent Sen. Sean Bowie. Votes cast for the two men showed Bowie garnering about 500 votes more than Schmuck.
Shifa virtually tied with Jermaine for the third spot in the race for campaign cash among the LD18 House candidates. Norgaard and Epstein held first and second place, respectively.
Norgaard’s latest campaign financing report showed her entering the last week of the primary with a cash balance of nearly $77,000 and raising a total of nearly $99,000 since the beginning of 2017.
Epstein’s $31,445 cash balance represents about half the approximate $74,000 she collected in the same time period.
Both Stuben and Hawker are Clean Elections candidates. Hawker had not raised enough small contributions – $5 from 200 supporters – to qualify for the nearly $17,000 in public funding that Clean Elections candidates receive.
Stuben and Hawker appeared to represent the far left and far right of their respective parties. Stuben, an executive pastry chef at the renown Liberty Market in Gilbert, called for increasing taxes on corporations to give public education more money. Hawker said that Planned Parenthood had influenced a sex education program in Tempe Union High School District to increase abortions performed at its family planning clinics.
Norgaard’s primary election victory gives her the chance to seek a third term in office while Epstein will be seeking her second.
Among the City of Phoenix’s six referendum questions, voters appeared to overwhelmingly approve shifting city council elections from the fall of odd-numbered years to November of even-numbered years with runoffs the following March.
They also approved by a 4-1 margin a proposition giving City Council the right to remove elected city officials for violating the city’s non-discrimination and anti-harassment ordinance.
Voters also appeared to have approved a measure that changes the terms of the Citizens Commission on Salaries for elected officials to also be in even-number years. The proposition also requires the panel to meet every four years instead of two.
Voters also appeared to okay a proposed Southwest Gas Corporation franchise agreement and the elimination of a City Charter requirement to have the full text of propositions printed on the ballot without unanimous approval by the City Council.
Patterson in his campaign said that during his two terms in the House – from 1991 to 1995 – “I have worked to protect consumers, increase access to healthcare and support higher education.”
During the only debate featuring all seven candidates – sponsored by the Clean Elections Commission in Ahwatukee last month – education spending and taxes dominated the discussion and both Patterson and Jermaine found common ground by saying any tax increase for more public education spending is an issue that the voters and not the Legislature should decide.
All seven candidates’ stand on the expanded voucher system for private schools fell along party lines. The four Republicans saying they supported greater parental choice in where their children attend school and the Democrats urging audience members to vote no when in November, when the voucher expansion is on the ballot.
Norgaard has framed her campaign around her work in the Legislature the last four sessions.
She notes on the website that her major work has focused on “protecting business from state regulatory overreach, the reduction of financial red tape for education at the K-12 level, tax reform, upgrade and enhance cities' bond ratings, and the restoration of Joint Technical Education District funding.”
Epstein has made education spending a cornerstone of her campaign, stating on her website: “We must educate the whole child. Neither a child nor a school should ever be reduced to one test score. Our schools need arts, PE, technology, school counselors, as well as rigorous courses in English, math, science and social studies.”
Jermaine likewise states, “I am running because the children of Arizona deserve fully funded public schools, our disability community deserves to have access to public spaces, and our residents deserve to be free of harassment and racism as they lead their daily lives.”