Two former council members approach Chandler runoff in different ways - East Valley Tribune: East Valley Local News

Two former council members approach Chandler runoff in different ways

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Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010 4:06 pm | Updated: 9:50 am, Tue Aug 31, 2010.

The two former council members in Chandler's runoff election for the City Council are planning different paths in their quest to regain their old post.

Donna Wallace is criticizing city spending, especially the new City Hall and Arizona Avenue improvements.

Kevin Hartke wants to avoid bashing the city and focus instead on offering solutions.

Yet both candidates will tout their experience, ranging from Wallace's previous eight years on the council to Hartke's year-long appointment to fill a vacancy.

The two entered the runoff after Hartke fell about 500 votes short of being elected outright in Tuesday's primary election. Incumbents Trinity Donovan and Jeff Weninger won outright.

The campaign featured claims the city had overspent on projects it doesn't need, or that the improvements could have been done for less or in better economic times.

Hartke said he didn't think many points were helpful to the city, in part because the City Hall and road work will be completed by the time the new candidates take office in January. He said the downtown projects will be considered important in the coming years despite the reservations some have today.

"My strategy will be to do what I've done the whole time, which is to focus on how we can make Chandler better and how I'm qualified to lead us there rather than just say things are wrong," Hartke said.

Hartke, 54, is a minister who was appointed to the council in January 2008 after Martin Sepulveda's military deployment. Hartke later was put in charge of the city's Census effort.

Unlike Hartke, Wallace has remained critical of the City Hall and said the Arizona Avenue project was a waste of money. The funds should have been used instead to widen other roads.

"To me those are two pretty glaring differences in our fiscal decision-making," Wallace said.

Wallace, 56, is co-owner of Doug's Radiator and Muffler, a sales associate at Macy's and served two terms on the board of the Chandler Unified School District.

Hartke got 10,290 votes, compared with Wallace's 9,318 votes.

To get elected outright, a candidate needs half as many votes as those cast for mayor, which in this case was 21,617. Former Mayor Jay Tibshraeny won his former post in an unchallenged race. The official vote tally will change slightly by next week as provisional ballots are tabulated.

Weninger secured the most votes, 12,592. He figures voters supported him because of his voting record.

"I think my message has mainly been fiscal responsibility, taking care of our core services - the core responsibility of the local government - and getting out of the way of the private sector," said Weninger, a restaurant owner.

Donovan nabbed 11,870 votes, attributing her strong showing at the polls to having a grassroots campaign.

"I stood at a poll all day today and I heard a lot of good feedback and they appreciated my being on the council, my community-mindedness," Donovan said.

Insurance agency owner Scott Taylor came in fifth place with 8,692 votes. Retired policeman Terry Roe got 5,222 votes.

Roe spent only $3,400 or so, the least of any candidate. He said he was proud of his showing despite not having enough money to do a mailing, which every other candidate had funds for. Roe was perhaps the most critical of city spending and said the message resonated with many voters he spoke with.

"I guess I hoped the tea party stuff was just a piece of America waking up to the realization that they need to get involved and be part of our country, part of our government," Roe said. "In the big races, not necessarily in Arizona, they've played a little bit of a role. (But) I think a lot of people stayed home."

Tibshraeny said the city's finances will be the new council's top challenge. To him, the election shows residents can support candidates who hold opposing views.

"Chandler voters are good about that, picking their candidates and even though they may look at things a little differently on the council, I think the citizens look for people who are performing, and performing well for them," Tibshraeny said. "I think they did that looking at the two incumbents even though they are very different than each other."

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