Write-in candidates aren’t new to Scottsdale city elections. Once, one of them got elected mayor.
But that shouldn’t give much hope to the seven writeins now running for Scottsdale City Council, all of whom signed up for a shot at winning a seat on the City Hall dais in 72 hours last week.
While B.L. “Bud” Tims did outdistance two ballot-named candidates exactly 40 years ago next Wednesday, it may have helped his write-in candidacy that he already was the mayor of Scottsdale at the time.
According to documents provided by the city clerk’s office, here’s what happened in the strange election of February 1966:
Mayor C.W. Clayton died, and on Jan. 6, 1966, the remaining council members met to elect one of them to fill out the last few months of Clayton’s term.
(By the way, it’s interesting to note that in those days Scottsdale candidates used their first and middle initials, plus nicknames, when they ran for office. There was R.M. “Dick” Auxier, R.L. “Bob” Jones, J.R. “Jim” Lhotan, C.K. “Ken” Murray, and my favorite, H.C. “Hash” Nelson. In addition, there was John Ford “Jack” Evans and William C. “Bill” Jenkins.)
Anyway, when the council got together, they elected Tims, 34, an optometrist, to fill out Clayton’s unexpired term. Tims decided to run for a full term as mayor, so he withdrew from his bid for re-election as councilman.
However, the deadline to file petition signatures to be named on the ballot for mayor had passed, so all that was left for Tims to do was declare a write-in candidacy.
The Tribune reported in a 2000 story that Tims’ supporters handed out small pencils to voters at the polls.
It worked. On Feb. 15, Tims received 2,910 written-in votes, easily surpassing his next opponent, who only received 1,810.
That opponent is still practicing law in downtown Scottsdale. Fenton McDonough (no initials) recalled Thursday that he was part of a slate of candidates for all six council seats and the mayor’s job. Only two of them got elected, Jones and Jenkins.
“It turned out I didn’t have the backing that I thought,” McDonough said. “I came across as a laissez faire candidate. You want a sign, you put it up. So my philosophies didn’t jibe with what the people wanted.”
McDonough said Tims, who has since died, turned out to be a good mayor. The situation is much different than today’s, he said.
“There was only one writein candidate and he was strongly backed by the, what shall we call them? The kingmakers,” McDonough said.
This year’s kingmakers aren’t backing write-in candidates. They’re on their own. Maybe they ought to consider handing out pencils.