Despite a series of recent public embarrassments for his administration, Apache Junction Mayor Doug Coleman held on to his position for a fifth term Tuesday, receiving 56.7 percent of the vote in the primary election.
"I was concerned," said a tearful Coleman after the results were announced. "You never know how an election is going to go."
Coleman has survived public scrutiny over incidents including the policeinvolved shooting of a 16-year-old for which the city paid a $1.65 million settlement, efforts to keep City Manager Curtis Shook on staff despite two arrests on suspicion of drunken driving (he later agreed to a plea deal), and a lawsuit that left the city nearly $25,000 in debt to a local newspaper.
The election also came amid two major land disputes: One with Mesa over the annexation of 200 acres of undeveloped desert; the other a widely opposed rezoning of 60 acres of industrial property. Due to a petition drive, voters will decide the latter issue during the May 20 election.
City officials said voter turnout was relatively high — 22.6 percent of registered voters. Coleman’s 1,389 votes totaled more than the required number to avoid a runoff. Likewise, City Council newcomers John Insalaco (1,350 votes) and Dave Waldron (1,247 votes) already won their seats.
The third City Council seat will be decided at in the May 20 election, where incumbents Joe Durbala and Carol Urich will vie for the open spot.
Coming in second in the mayoral race was 61-year-old George Diehl with 27.2 percent of the vote. The other two mayoral candidates were supermarket cashier Anita Linker, 34, who garnered 10 percent, and longtime Coleman critic Elliott Fisher, 39, who received 6.1 percent. Other candidates for City Council included Jeffrey Green, Alec-Lauren Golzio and Kristopher Sippel.
Coleman said he was relieved that city scandals in the past two years did not prevent him from being the only elected mayor in Apache Junction’s history to serve five terms.