None of the 14 candidates seeking a seat on the expanded Oro Valley Town Council received a majority of votes in the town's March 9 primary election, forcing the need for a May 18 runoff.
A sometimes nasty campaign appeared to take its toll on the two incumbents in the election, Dick Johnson and Bart Rochman, who finished third and fourth in a very tight race for the two two-year term council seats, finishing behind Conny Culver and Ken "K.C." Carter.
Culver received 24 percent of the vote; Carter, 22 percent; Dick Johnson 22 percent; and Bart Rochman, 19 percent.
Those four will advance to the runoff. Not advancing was Steve Conrad who received 14 percent.
Johnson was 235 votes behind Culver and only 14 votes behind Carter. Rochman trailed Johnson by 351 votes.
Of the nine candidates seeking the three four-year term seats, six will advance to the runoff. Helen Dankwerth lead with 17 percent of the votes; Barry Gillaspie followed with 16 percent; Terry Parish received 14 percent; Richie Feinberg, 12 percent; Lyra Done, 10 percent; and Don Cox, 9 percent.
The three candidates who didn't receive enough votes to advance were Mark Ellis, 8 percent; Al Kunisch, 8 percent; and Jon Robson, 4 percent.
The council decided last year to expand its ranks from five to seven, creating the need for the five-seat election. Johnson, who has been on the council since 1997, said finishing third felt like the voters gave him a "slap in the face. It's a repudiation of everything you've tried to do (on the council)."
Johnson attributed his showing partly to negative campaigning which he vowed to overcome in the runoff campaign.
Culver, though, was quite happy with her result.
"I feel very confident going into the May election. I've come in first over the two incumbents as has K.C. and that says that people want change," she said. "I'm going to work very hard and it's going to be a spirited campaign but I'm in it to win."
Dankwerth, likewise, was happy with her first place showing.
"I'm thrilled at the confidence the electorate seems to be expressing in me," she said. "I'll do by best to see it is not misplaced."
All four candidates dually endorsed by the Oro Valley Police Officers Association and the North Tucson Firefighters Local 3832 received the most votes in their respective races.
Parish, a Pima County Sheriff's deputy, was grateful for the support he received from the two public safety groups.
"I'm glad to see that Oro Valley voters are as devoted to public safety as I am," he said.
Town Clerk Kathi Cuvelier said there were still 363 ballots at Town Hall that needed to be counted and an unknown number at the post office. Preliminary results with ballots still to be counted show that only 6,436 of 20,037 registered voters cast ballots in the primary, a 32 percent turnout.