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We Asked Phoenix Voters Who They Picked For Mayor

We Asked Phoenix Voters Who They Picked For Mayor
Elizabeth Whitman
On this blessed city of Phoenix Election Day, Phoenix New Times started the morning stopping by two polling centers to ask citizens who they voted for.

In this special election, Phoenix voters will be selecting a new mayor and council members for Districts 5 and 8. If you haven’t voted yet, it’s not too late. The city’s 28 polling centers will be open until 7 p.m. We expect early returns to roll in shortly after that.

Here’s what we saw:

At Burton Barr Central Library...

A trickle of voters dropped off early ballots or cast their vote at the library Tuesday morning. Some of them picked up some books after participating in democracy. Most of the voters New Times spoke with said they voted for Kate Gallego, who was handing out doughnuts outside the library.

click to enlarge Kate Gallego, (left) - STEVEN HSIEH
Kate Gallego, (left)
Steven Hsieh
Kate Gallego, 37
Mayoral candidate

My son is coming to meet me in 15 minutes, so I’ll vote soon.

Who are you voting for mayor?
Kate Gallego for mayor.

What are the most important issues in this race?
Planning for the future, making sure we have a good transportation system, water supply, good jobs, and a safe community.

Who are you voting for in District 8? (Gallego represented District 8 from 2013 to 2018)
I’m just focused on my campaign right now.

click to enlarge Kimberly Dackel - STEVEN HSIEH
Kimberly Dackel
Steven Hsieh
Kimberly Dackel, 39

Who did you vote for mayor?
Kate Gallego

What were the important issues for you?
Oh gosh. It’s hard to narrow it down to most important. For my husband and I, the well-being of Phoenix and especially people are in the margins and being pushed out by big business. And also public safety, and the candidate that doesn’t have the police in their pocket.

What was it about Kate?
I think both of those things are things that stand true to who she is and things that are important to her as well. In terms of some of the debates, we felt she did a better job, had clearer answers, has more experience in public office.

Do you live in a city council district that was up for election today?

click to enlarge John Commerford - STEVEN HSIEH
John Commerford
Steven Hsieh
John Commerford, 52

Who did you vote for mayor?
Kate Gallego

What were the important issues for you?
She is by miles the better-educated candidate and we need more women voices in politics.

Do you live in a council district up for election today?

click to enlarge Joe Schmidt - STEVEN HSIEH
Joe Schmidt
Steven Hsieh
Joe Schmidt, 69
Retired teacher, “still substitute now and then”

Who did you vote for mayor?
Kate Gallego

What were the important issues for you?
That’s a good question. I guess I see her more out of presentation than anything else, having confidence and ability and assurance. As far as showing leadership, that sort of thing. 

And I have a bit of a quarrel with the public-service pension fund because it is so underfunded and I see Valenzuela as someone who would rubber-stamp the things that deal with that and not look for changes and improvements.

Do you live in a council district up for election today?

I see you checked out some books.
(Schmidt revealed two books, Miraculous Abundance: One Quarter Acre, Two French Farmers, and Enough Food to Feed the World, and The Dardanelles Disaster: Winston Churchill's Greatest Failure.)

click to enlarge Alana Varner - STEVEN HSIEH
Alana Varner
Steven Hsieh
Alana Varner, 32
ASU Archivist

Who did you vote for mayor?
I voted for Kate Gallego.

What were the important issues for you?
There were a few. I saw that the police union had endorsed her opponent. Phoenix has one of the highest rates of police killings in the country, and I think that’s a problem, so that to me was a big indicator that this might not be the right person.

Kate is also endorsed by Arizona List, a lot of women’s rights and advocacy groups, so she definitely aligns with a lot of my values.

Do you live in a district electing a city council member today?

click to enlarge Alexander and Laura Bardawell - STEVEN HSIEH
Alexander and Laura Bardawell
Steven Hsieh
Alexander, 35, and Laura Bardawell, 36

Did you vote for the same person for mayor?
AB: Will not say.

LB: I think we did.

AB: I think we did.

Who did you vote for mayor?
LB: Kate Gallego

AB: Kate, yeah.

What were the important issues?
AB: We have two small children, so it’s really important that we’re focusing on education in the city of Phoenix, and really ensuring that’s a priority in this city. We’re involved in public works and making sure jobs are staying in this city.

What was it about Kate?
AB: I relate to her as a mother. I think that’s important. I think she’s a good face. We also loved our former mayor, Greg Stanton, and I think they share similar values as well.

LB: She’s very approachable. 

Anonymous, 72
Retired [Declined to be photographed]

What’s your name?
Oh, I don’t want to give my name. 

Who did you vote for mayor?
Venezuela (sic)

How come?
I like his policies.

What was important for you in this election?
To keep Phoenix going in the right direction. 

At Helen Drake Senior Center...

In addition to picking a mayor, voters in District 5 also have to choose a new city council member in these special elections. Candidates for the seat include Audrey Bell-Jenkins, Betty Guardado, Vania Guevara (the current council member), and Lydia Hernandez.

The parking lot at the senior center was fuller than it usually was on Tuesdays, one regular said, but it was hardly busy. Campaign signs for the aforementioned candidates were spiked into the gravel next to the driveway, next to a crumpled placard for Kate Gallego.

Anonymous man, anonymous age [Declined to be photographed]

Who did you vote for?
That’s why they call it a secret ballot. (He drove away.)

click to enlarge Roi Moore - ELIZABETH WHITMAN
Roi Moore
Elizabeth Whitman
Roi Moore, 77

Who did you vote for for mayor?
[Roi declined to share.]

When did you vote?
I voted by mail about a week ago. I think the system is antiquated.

Has the recent flood of campaign advertisements affected your vote?
It helped me make a decision. You can say that stuff works. The negative stuff I don’t like, though.

So your name is Roi Moore. There’s a notorious politician named Roy Moore…
Yeah, sorry! We’re not related.

click to enlarge Christopher Groom - ELIZABETH WHITMAN
Christopher Groom
Elizabeth Whitman
Christopher Groom, 52 and Thomas Usher, 86 (not pictured)

Have you both voted?
CG: Yes. I sent in my early ballot because it’s much more convenient. Why don’t they have everybody mail in their ballots?

TU: No. I misplaced the mail-in ballot. So that’s why I gotta come here. I don’t know what district … I must be District 5 …. There’s only two of them to vote for.

CG: I voted for Vania [Guevara] and I voted for [Daniel] Valenzuela. Vania, I voted for, I gotta admit it’s because of all the time she comes and spends here [at the Helen Drake Senior Center, where Groom volunteers]. I like her. She’s very in tune with the community. I must admit, I don’t know much about Valenzuela. 

TU: That’s who I’m voting for, Valenzuela.

Kathe Taylor, 71 [Declined to be photographed]

Who did you vote for?
[Lydia] Hernandez and [Daniel] Valenzuela.

What drew you to those candidates?
I basically looked them up online. They seemed to have a background in government.

When you looked them up online, which websites were you looking at?

There has been a recent surge of campaign advertisements. How did that affect your vote?  In the last week I probably got like 20 different postcards, like the 9-by-6 ones. I don’t pay attention to them. If it was a big postcard, I threw it away.

Debbie, 63 [Declined to give her last name]

Who did you vote for?
Daniel Valenzuela and Vania Guevara.

What drew you to these candidates?
With Daniel, he was the [City Council] representative of this district. I’d be happy to have him as the first Hispanic mayor of Phoenix. In terms of Vania, I don’t have any real reasons for voting for her. She sounds intelligent. I didn’t really know the council people who were running.

What issues are most important to you as a voter? Education, jobs for Phoenix, and streets, roads, and infrastructure. I don’t know that the mayor has much control over that.
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Steven Hsieh was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from August 2018 to April 2020.
Contact: Steven Hsieh
Elizabeth Whitman was a staff writer for Phoenix New Times from March 2019 to April 2020.