As 23, Christopher Glover always knew he was the underdog in his bid for City Council.
But after defeating a 67-year-old who has been active in the community since before Glover's birth, Glover said he is now focusing on what issues he wants to tackle first.
He wants Mesa to seek state or federal money to boost code enforcement and spruce up the appearance of District 4, which includes downtown. Glover wants to see if Mesa can do anything about the area's concentration of halfway houses. And he plans to meet with downtown merchants to explore ways of improving the city's center.
"I would like to see the city of Mesa become as business friendly as possible," Glover said.
Glover's electoral victory Tuesday is unusual in the politics of most cities, as successful candidates typically have years of civic involvement through community organizations or city boards and commissions.
But voters weren't concerned about that, he said.
"Most people were impressed that I had the initiative to seek out opportunities to learn and to grow," Glover said.
Several other factors helped in securing 59 percent of the vote. Many voters knew his parents and grandparents, he said. And having the endorsement of state Sen. Russell Pearce, R-Mesa, and two other lawmakers resonated with voters in Tuesday's primary election.
"Endorsements can help or hurt you but I do think that these did help me a lot," Glover said.
Opponent Vic Linoff said Glover's victory was largely a result of this being the first time a nonpartisan city election was on the same ballot with statewide partisan primaries.
Because Republicans dominate the legislative districts in Mesa, many independents and Democrats simply didn't show up to vote for the city election, Linoff said.
"A lot of people said, ‘I don't have a dog in this fight so I'll wait it out till November,'" Linoff said.
Still, Linoff offered compliments to Glover.
Linoff's campaign featured endorsements from Mayor Scott Smith and most of the City Council. He had decades of involvement in Mesa and Tempe, working on historic preservation, downtown redevelopment and the arts. Linoff said he'll remain involved.
Mesa's new election schedule should concern voters, Linoff said, because he found the statewide races overshadowed the city election. Many voters were unaware of it, he said, and civic groups didn't get involved as they have in the past.
"My biggest disappointment is that nobody seemed to take this election seriously enough to want to create some public opportunities for the candidates to appear together," Linoff said. "Here's a contested race in a city of a half-million and there wasn't one forum, there wasn't one debate, there wasn't one town hall. There was nothing."
The Legislature forced cities with more than 175,000 residents to combine city elections with the fall elections despite concerns it would inject partisan politics in local races. Proponents said it would boost turnout.
But that wasn't the case in Mesa. Turnout in District 4 was 19.25 percent, compared with 17.46 percent four years ago. Glover got 1,737 votes, compared with Linoff's 1,181 votes.
Also Tuesday, voters reelected District 5's Dina Higgins and District 6's Scott Somers in uncontested races.
Mayor Scott Smith said the new election schedule is "troubling" because it didn't increase turnout but it did inject partisanship where it doesn't belong. Smith said he didn't want to diminish Glover's victory but added he wants to explore how the city can increase interest in the local elections and not having political parties dominate them.
"You have a potential of skewing the results," Smith said. "That should be a concern for everybody, except the true partisans who want that result."