Christopher Glover will be Mesa's newest face on the City Council after the 23-year-old waged a campaign that touted endorsements from state Sen. Russell Pearce and other conservatives.
He beat Vic Linoff, 67, who pitched decades of community involvement and the backing of Mayor Scott Smith and five City Council members.
Glover got 59.1 percent of the vote for District 4, according to unofficial results that included early votes and all precincts.
Glover said his campaigning and work for the Republican Party connected with voters.
"I think it was just hard work, dedication and people knew where I stood on the issues and I resonated more with their personal beliefs," Glover said. "Plus I think just having my family be here a long time and a lot of people knowing my parents or grandparents on both sides."
Glover said he felt he was the underdog from the start. He decided to run after seeing the election would have been uncontested. Glover said he was surprised voters supported him in such strong numbers.
"I will be their voice and listen to them on the City Council," he said.
Glover has a political science degree from Arizona State University and served as an intern for U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nevada.
Linoff, who garnered 40.2 percent of the vote, could not be reached for comment after the results came out Tuesday. Councilman Dennis Kavanaugh attended Linoff's election night rally and said Glover's victory came despite his running a low-profile campaign.
Kavanaugh attributed Glover's win to the election's shift from a city-only election in the spring to it being merged with countless partisan elections in the fall cycle. Many voters were confused about the ballots, he said.
"I think a lot of people didn't realize there was a city election happening at all today," Kavanaugh said.
Mesa was forced to shift elections to the fall after the Legislature passed a law requiring communities with a population of more than 175,000 to combine local elections with fall elections. Opponents argued the Republicans who dominate the Legislature were trying to inject partisan politics into non-partisan city elections.
This election proves that has occurred, Kavanaugh said.
"I think they took advantage of the change in the election date," he said. "I mean where else would you find someone with really no civic experience in an open seat race winning by 60/40?"
Linoff for decades owned Those Were The Days!, a downtown Tempe antiques and book store. He's been active in Tempe and Mesa, advocating for historic preservation, downtown redevelopment and public transportation. He was a charter member of the Downtown Tempe Community, a non-profit group that promotes the city center.
The District 4 race was the only contested one in the city but also had the lowest number of voters with about 2,900 ballots cast between Glover and Linoff.
District 5's Dina Higgins and District 6's Scott Somers were re-elected in their unchallenged bids for their second 4-year terms. Higgins and Somers each had more than three times the total vote of the smaller District 4 tally despite there being no other choice on the ballot.