By CHRISTOPHER CONOVER and ANDREA KELLY Arizona Public Media
A record voter turnout swept a Democrat into the mayor's seat in Tucson for the first time in more than a decade.
Tuesday's election saw 42 percent of active voters cast ballots. Voters mailed in their ballots in advance of election day or dropped them off at City Hall or six other polling spots around Tucson on Tuesday. The old record was 41 percent in 1999, when Tucsonans elected Republican Bob Walkup for the first of his three mayoral terms.
This time, they chose Democrat Jonathan Rothschild, a lawyer who handily won his first try at public office. Rothschild, who has worked at his law firm walking distance from City Hall for more than two decades, defeated Republican Rick Grinnell, 55 percent to 40 percent. Green Party mayoral candidate Mary DeCamp took just under 5 percent, making the party eligible for matching public funding in future city races.
Rothschild called for unity in the wake of the election.
"Now is the time to set aside heady political gains," Rothschild told supporters Tuesday evening. "We need to look our real challenges in the eye. We need to dedicate ourselves -- all of us -- to improving on our education system, so our young families want to stay in this community, on our job-training program, so the least of us can move to the middle class, to improve our housing infrastructure and to support our public employees.
"We must do this as a community. We must do this together. We must set aside generations of stereotyping and bickering and realize that in this valley ... we are all neighbors," the mayor-elect said.
Rothschild said he planned to spend Wednesday at City Hall, meeting Walkup, interim City Manager Richard Miranda and other officials to hear their viewpoints on the issues.
In defeat, Grinnell expressed both admiration for voters who got up to speed on the issues and disappointment at the voter turnout.
"People actually paid attention, which is part of the process," he said. "If people don't listen, they don't get involved. I really thought we'd have a much bigger turnout. But it is what it is."
In City Council races, Democratic incumbent Regina Romero took 65 percent of the vote to Green Beryl Baker's 34 percent in Ward One, and in Ward Two, incumbent Democrat Paul Cunningham beat Republican Jennifer Rawson 57 to 43 percent.
In Ward Four, incumbent Democrat Shirley Scott and Republican challenger Tyler Vogt must wait until Thursday for the final vote count. A reported 8,400 votes remain to be counted, enough to change the 51-49 percent advantage Scott now holds as she seeks a fifth term.
Listen to Arizona Public Media's report on the results, and candidate reactions.