Two Tempe City Council incumbents have been thrust into a runoff scenario against each other by a former state legislator and a first-time politician.
David Schapira and Lauren Kuby claimed two of the three open seats by each securing more than 8,650 votes Tuesday to best incumbents Robin Arredondo-Savage (8,504) and Shana Ellis (8,340), who were the third- and fourth-highest vote-getters, respectively.
Kuby led the way with 9,693 votes in her first political campaign. She is the manager of community engagement at Arizona State University’s sustainability program.
“I don’t feel like it’s my win,” she said, thanking volunteers and former Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell for his mentorship.
Schapira (9,500), who is a former state representative and state senator and is the assistant superintendent of the East Valley Institute of Technology, said he was proud of Kuby, whom he called a close friend.
The preliminary results of Tuesday’s primary showed the other five City Council candidates failed to reach 8,650 votes, the number that represents the majority vote for Tempe. Because only Schapira and Kuby received a majority vote, the third and final seat remains open for the November election. That seat belongs to Vice Mayor Onnie Shekerjian, who did not seek re-election.
Nikki Ripley, communication and media relations manager for the city of Tempe, confirmed that only Arredondo-Savage and Ellis are eligible for a runoff election on Nov. 4.
Fifth-place finisher Dick Foreman (7,982) isn’t eligible to participate in the general election, but said he wouldn’t have run against Arredondo-Savage and Ellis in November if he qualified. He said that from the start of the election, he was a “pretty big fan” of the two incumbents.
“My inclination would be I wouldn’t run against somebody I support,” Foreman said. “I was running for a seat that was open.”
Attempts to reach Arredondo-Savage and Ellis for comment by email were not successful.
Meanwhile, the two outright winners are making plans as they await the swearing-in ceremony into the six-member council in January. Schapira said he wants to improve customer service between city officials and citizens. Two important points of interest for Kuby are homelessness and sustainability. She said the topic of solar energy resonated with the Republicans and independents whose doors she knocked on while campaigning.
“It’s not a dividing issue. It’s a unifying issue,” she said, adding that solar energy drives the economy and creates jobs.
Official primary election results will be approved at the Sept. 11 City Council meeting.
Schapiro said he looks forward to working with Kuby and the rest of the council members.
“Whatever the outcome of the runoff election that seems to be looming — this is a council filled with people who have the city’s best interest in mind and are willing to work together to collaborate to ensure that our city continues to improve,” he said.
Tempe residents also passed Proposition 475 — a city charter amendment giving sexual-orientation and gender-identity protection from employment discrimination. Sixty-nine percent of voters approved the measure and made Tempe the first city in Arizona to offer such protections.
• James Anderson is a junior at ASU’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. He is an intern with the Tribune this semester. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.