Tolmachoff, Turner and Aldama running for re-election
By Mark Carlisle
All of the three city council members whose terms end in 2018 — Lauren Tolmachoff of the Cholla District, Bart Turner of the Barrell District and Jamie Aldama of the Ocotillo District — have announced they will run for re-election next fall. All three are in their first term on council.
No one has emerged as a challenger for any of the three seats yet as candidates do not officially file to enter the races until April 30 — May 30. City Clerk Julie Bower said that candidate packets will be available to pick up soon, which will show which residents are at least showing interest in running.
Ms. Tolmachoff announced her candidacy first, July 28 at a Lunch Mob event at the Rogue Tomato, 18561 N. 59th Ave. No. 122. Lunch Mobs are events hosted by the Chamber of Commerce in partnership with a specific councilmember. Mr. Turner also announced at a Lunch Mob Aug. 25 at Cheba Hut, 5925 W. Olive Ave. No. 2. Mr. Aldama announced most recently at a difference chamber event, the First Friday breakfast networking event, Sept. 8 at Cuff, 5819 W. Glendale Ave.
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“I feel that I’ve contributed to the betterment of the city with the council working collectively with them and with our staff,” Mr. Aldama said. “And I feel that I have a conviction that I can continue to make a difference for Glendale. Thus why I’ve asked the voters to consider me.”
Mr. Turner said the main reason why voters should reelect him came down to five words.
“The simple phrase: promises made and promises kept,” he said. “I said I would tackle the issues of fiscal stability and not subsidizing sports and not fighting the casino, and I’ve delivered in all three of those areas.”
In a similar vein, Ms. Tolmachoff said she believed she’d delivered on most if not all of her promises to constituents wants another term to build on those accomplishments.
“We’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I believe that I’ve kept my commitments,” she said. “And that was one of the things that I ran on was ‘I’m going to keep my word. I’m going to do my best to get these things done.’ And I think I’ve done that.”
The primary elections will be held Aug. 28 of next year, and the general election will be Nov. 6. If any candidate receives a majority of the vote in his or her primary election, that candidate is elected to the seat. Otherwise, the top two vote-getters will be placed on the ballot for the general.
None of the three candidates received a majority in the primary in 2014 when they were elected to the council. Ms. Tolmachoff came the closest with 41.3 percent of the vote. Mr. Aldama was the only one of the three to not receive the most votes in the primary, though he was also the only one challenging an incumbent running for re-election.
Mr. Aldama received 30.6 percent of the primary vote, second to incumbent Norma Alvarez with 39.4 percent in a four-person race. Mr. Aldama eked out a victory in the election, defeating Ms. Alvarez by 19 votes.
Mr. Aldama hopes he has done enough to win with a more comfortable margin this time.
“I feel strong that I have answered the call for our community,” he said. “ I feel confident that I’ve served them well, and I hope to do it again.”
Mr. Aldama attributed part of the reason for his narrow victory to a group called the Arizona Free Enterprise Club that donated against him, claiming he was in the pocket of special interest groups, he said.
He does not know if the group plans to launch a similar attack in next year’s campaign, but Mr. Aldama denies their claims outright.
“I’ve lined out my special interests, and I’ll do it again: it’s the people, it’s the city finances, it’s public safety, it’s our employees, it’s our citizens; that’s my special interests.” he said. “Libraries are my special interest. Parks and Recreation, our O’Neil Park, that’s my special interest. And I have proven that I’m not a special interest to anybody.”
All three council members cited Glendale’s economic turnaround as a sign of individual success and the council’s success as a whole.
Ms. Tolmachoff noted that in 2012, two years before this group took office, the Wall Street Journal ranked Glendale the second most financially unstable municipality in the country behind only Detroit.
Members pointed out that now the city’s bond rating has increased, the reserve fund is over $40 million, the city is spending less on its sports venues and economic development is streaming into the city.
“The financial stability the city is in right now it is absolutely incredible,” Mr. Aldama said. “And we did that collectively. I am extremely proud when I came into office the city was the first of bankruptcy was doing very horribly and you look at us now, and I’ll tell you that we’re doing really, really well. We’re doing good. And I’m proud of that.”
Mr. Turner said that righting the ship financially laid a foundation for other services to the city. “I know that without a solid fiscal footing that we’re not going to be able to accomplish anything and provide service reliably for the residents,” Mr. Turner said.
Mr. Turner said that when he first went door-to-door seeking election, he discovered many of the voters’ concerns lined up with his own. Mainly, they wanted the city to improve fiscally, to stop subsidizing sports in the city and to stop fighting the Desert Diamond Casino. He feels the council has accomplished or made significant strides on all three of those fronts during his tenure.
Now that the city’s finan-
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cial outlook has improved, all three councilmembers agreed that the council can focus on things it was not able to before.
“(We’re now able to) work on doing some of the things that we really should have been doing for our citizens all along,” Ms. Tolmachoff said. “The city just wasn’t financially able to take care of some of the stuff.”
Among the improvements the councilmembers spoke of were improving roads, parks and landscaping, extending library hours, getting the reserve fund to the $50 million goal and conducting maintenance on certain city buildings. They mentioned progress toward a few of those goals, that the council is has a pavement management plan, has a capital improvement plan in place and is on track to reach the reserve fund goal in a few years.
Ms. Tolmachoff added that she felt the hard part of council’s job is over, that the city’s future looks bright and that a possible second term brings with it a lot of possibility.
“I think that a lot of the heavy lifting we had to do when I first got elected, we’ve done,” she said. “We’ve got a good city manager in place. We’ve got a good council. We’ve just got a lot of positive things happening, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do to keep moving the city forward.”
Ms. Tolmachoff said that she did not plan on announcing her re-election when she went into the Lunch Mob event in her district July 28. She had already decided she would run again and mentioned those plans to Vice Mayor Ian Hugh. Mr. Hugh spoke before Ms. Tolmachoff at the event and called her up, asking her to commit to running again and to make it offi cial, Ms. Tolmachoff said.
“I was happy to do it; it was just kind of impromptu,” Ms. Tolmachoff said.
Mr. Hugh and Councilwoman Joyce Clark were re-elected in 2016 and Councilman Ray Malnar was elected for the first time in 2016. They will come up for re-election in 2020, should they decide to run again. Mayor Jerry Weiers was also re-elected in 2016, but serves a six-year term. His re-election opportunity will come in 2022.
Mark Carlisle can be reached at 623-876-2518 or firstname.lastname@example.org.