The following election results are preliminary and could change. As of Wednesday morning, March 14, 166 ballots await pickup at the Sedona City Clerk’s office. Other ballots may have been dropped in Cottonwood or any other official ballot receptacle. Results are deemed preliminary until all are counted, verified and accepted (election canvass) at the March 27 City Council meeting.
A candidate is declared elected at the Primary election if he/she receives fifty percent plus one (50% +1) of the votes cast. If a seat(s) is (are) not filled at the primary, a general election will be held to fill it (them).
“Voter turnout,” as we used to call it, has become voter participation—or not. Though the County has restructured polling places and regulations to allow people to vote at any polling place, not just closest to their residence, this Sedona election, like the last one, was Mail-In Ballot only. Forty-four point two percent of the registered voters participated by returning their ballots.
By comparison, in last fall’s hotly-contested election over Proposition 410—whether Sedona should accept ownership of a stretch of 89A in West Sedona in order to control the appearance and safety of the road, including the amount and type of lighting to be installed—66.8 percent of registered voters participated.
It’s no surprise that Rob Adams, running unopposed, has been reelected to two more years as mayor. Twenty-two point three percent of mayoral voters chose not to give the nod to Adams. Four point two percent of participating voters for mayor wrote in candidates; although, a write-in candidate cannot be elected unless registered as a candidate even if the name is not on the ballot.
Over one-fourth of the electorate (26.5%) did not endorse Adams’ run for a third term. The way he played both sides on November’s Prop 410 election may have cost him popularity from both sides of the issue. Adams prior election was based, in part, on a commitment to do everything possible to keep highway-style lighting off the streets of Sedona. When the alternative (the ‘everything possible’) became taking over the control and management of the road, Adams shifted his stance based on the projected costs, as he believed them to be, of owning the road in perpetuity.
His opposition to Prop 410 became highly-publicized by the No-on-410 group. He was apprised a quote from him would be appearing in an ad, but by that point he could not stop it. Whether he could have stopped the repeated use of his likeness and public opposition to Prop 410 in advertisements and mailings may be a matter of opinion, but that was less fundamental than the fact that thousands of dollars of other people’s money were spent promoting ‘the mayor says this isn’t a good idea.’ In a municipality with a strong mayor form of government, what the mayor says is what people believe when they don’t know what else to believe.
Sedona has a city-manager, city-council form of government. The role of the mayor is to run the meetings, officiate at ribbon cuttings, kiss the babies—largely a ceremonial role outside of enforcing Robert’s Rules of Order in Council. Posturing as a strong mayor may be where Adams’ New Mexico cowboy popularity began to wane.
Or it could have been the way he treated others committed to serving the city. For example, his refusal to support Angela LeFevre’s desire to run for a city council position in this election. LeFevre, a long-term Sedona resident with a degree in International Relations from the London School of Economics, was Adams’ campaign manager in his first election and heavily promoted “get out the vote” during his reelection campaign. When Adams refused to sign her petition of intent to run for Council this term—not a promise to vote for her—she withdrew her intended candidacy, recognizing that if he thought that little of her character and expertise, regardless of what she had done for him, she could not be effective sitting alongside him on the Council.
LeFevre was not the only person whose integrity Adams challenged. He spoke to City Commissioners Scott Jablow (Planning and Zoning) and Lin Ennis (Budget Oversight) on numerous occasions to say he didn’t think it was right for them to take such a strong position in favor of Proposition 410, even though they had cleared their activities with the city attorney and did not violate their sworn duty to the city or in any way claim to be speaking for the city or their commission when campaigning for the passage of Prop 410. He addressed a random citizen dropping off papers at City Hall to tell her she should not be wearing a Yes on Prop 410 campaign shirt while on the city campus.
Does this strike you as disingenuous? Let your likeness and opinion over your name as mayor be publicized everywhere at others’ expense, but one-on-one tell people with a different view they should not speak out because you, the mayor, voted to allow them to serve the city as volunteers?
Get the Message
Former City Councilor Jerry Frey ran front page ads in the Sedona Red Rock News asking people to leave the box for mayor blank on the ballots counted yesterday in the hopes the de facto mayor would get the message he has work to do to regain people’s confidence.
What are the messages?
- Sedona has a City Manager-City Council form of government. The mayor is the orchestra conductor, not the soloist. The structure is designed specifically to prevent a single person from running or ruling the city. It’s a team effort.
- Everyone is judged by the same ethics. There is not one standard for mayor and another for other City Councilors, Commissioners or the public. If the mayor can have and speak opinions, so can everyone else so long as they speak as private citizens and not on behalf of the city or its legal components.
- Visioning for the future development of Sedona and the property at the Wastewater Treatment plant is for the entire community and the Community Development Plan to create. It is not the purview of the mayor to sell the public on a Telluride South or a Creek Walk. If either of these happen, they must bubble up from within.
Leaders have strong egos. Good leaders use their strength for the team. When good leaders say “We,” they mean the whole team. They don’t call their own opinions “consensus.”
Adams is charming and likeable as a person. Let’s see if he can reintegrate those qualities as mayor for the next two years.
Williamson, Martinez, DiNunzio
The preliminary count for City Council Tuesday night, with possibly a few hundred more ballots to be counted March 14, was a total of 2807 votes cast. According to the rule of majority, half of that number plus one qualifies as an “elected” person in the primary, without the necessity of a runoff or general election in May. Presumably, as of the current count, any candidate receiving more than 1404 votes is considered elected.
Candidate John Miller has received only 1290 votes. If all of the ballots still at City Hall show votes for John Miller instead of Jessica Williamson, Miller could edge her out by seven votes.
However, if the 166 ballots at City Hall are divided as the previous 2807 votes are, Williamson will claim 22.44 percent of them, picking up another 37 votes to bring her total to 1486. If Miller’s favorable votes remain at his current 19.98 percent, he will gain 33 more votes, bringing his total to 1323 and Williamson still wins. It is unknown how many ballots have not been counted and are not at Sedona City Hall. That’s the wildcard.
The City of Sedona is in good financial hands for the next four years. Sixty-nine percent of voters approved local control of the budget, rather than state-imposed limitations based on a decades-old formula. While many citizens have differences of opinion on how the city should spend its money, fewer than one-third were willing to take on a $12-14 million dollar per year cut, with storm drainage, paving and other infrastructure considerations begging for more money, not less.
Citizens may get copies of the budget from the Sedona City website and are invited to attend not only City Council meetings, but also Budget Oversight Commission meetings, usually the third Wednesday of the month in the Vultee Conference Room on the City Hall campus.
Sedona Is Unique
It’s no surprise to those who live here that Sedona is its own kind of political animal. This election might be best summarized by Democrats of the Red Rocks President Angela LeFevre (speaking on her own behalf):
Sedona continues to show an electorate that does not fit into any set pattern.
In fact this is reflected in the election for Council. There were three open seats. We had four candidates. DiNunzio, the sitting Councilor, was elected (he was appointed on his first term) and this was not surprising. What might have been surprising was that that John D. Miller, the candidate favored by the winners of the referendum [Proposition 410 last November] (Dr. Wright and co.) was beaten. Jessica Williamson, a liberally inclined candidate and John Martinez, a relative unknown independent with strong financial expertise, fill the other two seats. Many voters were concerned about the fact that Miller is one of the biggest developers in the area, and that, maybe, there could be some conflict of interest in his being a member of the Council.
Sedona shows that its voters have an independent spirit that can never be predicted.