Maricopa County Board of Supervisor's District 5 Candidates Ramp Up Ground Game
The three-way race for a District 5 seat on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors is winding down, but the candidates are not.
Campaign activity is bustling with volunteers making phone calls, knocking on doors and picking up early ballots.
Steve Gallardo, a former state senator who left his post initially to run for Arizona's 7th Congressional District (CD7) and opted instead to run for supervisor, is running against fellow Democrat Michael Johnson, a longtime leader in the African-American community. Johnson has served on the Phoenix City Council for 12 years.
Marie Lopez Rogers, also a Democrat and the former mayor of Avondale, is also in the race and was unanimously appointed to fill the vacancy on the Board of Supervisors when Mary Rose Wilcox resigned to run for Congress.
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The cast of experienced Democrats will face off in the August 26 primary election to fill the remaining two years in Wilcox's term representing the overwhelmingly Democratic and Latino district. The winner will run in the November general election against Republican Mark Riddles.
Johnson says that based on polls he's seen, the race is going to be a tight one between him and Gallardo.
"We feel confident that we're going to win this race," he says, adding that his team is keeping busy out in the field encouraging voters to cast a ballot for Johnson.
Voters in Maricopa County's District 5 have returned fewer than 18,000 early ballots to the elections department -- a figure that seems low given the numerous competitive Democratic races.
"It's not as high as I anticipated," says Steve Gallardo, "And one week before the election, it's really low."
He says he "wouldn't be surprised if we met the same number of votes we had two years ago [when Wilcox was up for election], which is very low still in comparison to what it could've been given these hotly contested races. They usually generate excitement or interest in the community and get voters engaged in the election. Who knows? We still have five days."
Voter participation has increased in the county's District 5 over the years, according to county election records.
When Mary Rose Wilcox ran for the District 5 seat in September 2000, she received 8,182 votes; in 2004, she got 12,912 votes; in 2008, she received 15,835; and in 2012, she pocketed 23,473 votes.
In all of those races she was unopposed, although there were write-in candidates who collected a few hundred votes.