Joan Krueger led a crowded field of candidates vying for two open seats in Gilbert’s Town Council election Tuesday night, according to unofficial results.
Still, the 50-year-old incumbent didn’t appear to have enough votes to avoid a May 19 run-off election to retain her seat, according to preliminary numbers from the Maricopa County Recorder’s office.
Krueger had 7,632 votes, or 24.85 percent. She was followed by political newcomer Jenn Daniels, who garnered 6,599 votes, or 21.48 percent. John Setnz followed Daniels with 6,056 votes, or 19.72 percent, and Erin Scroggins had 4,517 votes, or 14.71 percent.
Those top four vote-getters are expected go into the general election. To win outright required candidates to receive a simple majority, or 50 percent plus one, of the number of ballots cast.
Those not in the top four were Lonnie Stadling, who received 2,918 votes, or 9.5 percent, William Jefferson who garnered 1,834 votes, or 5.97 percent, and James Hazel III, who had 1,114 votes, or 3.63 percent.
The official tally of Tuesday’s election won’t be announced until Friday, said Town Clerk Cathy Templeton. That’s when officials will tally the leftover early and provisional ballots.
Krueger said she still hoped to reach the simple majority threshold to avoid the run-off.
“I’m still hoping to see a few more numbers, and if we don’t achieve the (majority of cast ballots) then I’m prepared to go on,” she said.
She said she wouldn’t diverge from the issues or themes she’s emphasized so far in her campaigns.
Daniels, a 29-year-old who cut her teeth as a politician in this election, said she was excited by the results.
She said she was running on the promise to help make the council more transparent and accountable to residents, saying there’s a disconnect between Town Hall and the public.
“I think it’s really important that we balance the town budget (and) I still think it’s incredibly important that we communicate with the people of Gilbert, that we work hard to build those bridges.”
Scroggins, a 36-year-old publishing sales professional, said he was amazed after watching the preliminary results pour in.
“I spent the least amount of money and to be where I’m at right now — I’m pretty excited,” he said.
“I didn’t view myself as an underdog,” he added. “I viewed myself as someone that’s not a part of the establishment, not a part of creating our deficit, not a part of the decision making that the council has currently been doing.”
Sentz wasn’t immediately available for comment.
Templeton said as of Monday, there was still 21,000 early ballots that hadn’t been turned in.
This year saw a crowded and eclectic field of seven candidates vying for only two council seats that included Hazel III, a 20-year-old college student, Krueger, a one-term incumbent, and Daniels, a stay-at-home mom. Also running was 55-year-old Stradling who co-owns Stradling’s Fine Cabinetry in Mesa, and Jefferson, a 50-something psychotherapist.
Unlike the mayoral race, which was expected to be tight, no polling data existed to determine the leaders going into Tuesday’s election, although Krueger reported the highest amount of donations during the campaign followed by Sentz, Daniels, Scroggins and Stradling.
Of the people who turned out to vote at the polls, many admitted to paying more attention to the mayor’s race than to the Town Council, and either didn’t vote for the council or picked one even though they could choose two.
Joni Lang, voting at the Val Vista Lakes clubhouse, said she voted for Daniels on the recommendation of a friend, and “because she’s young, and because I just think she cold bring something different to the table.” But until a couple of days earlier, Lang confessed, she believed Daniels was running for mayor, not a council seat.