Incumbent Mayor Paul Loomis won a second term in Oro Valley's first all mail ballot election March 12, easily outdistancing environmentalist Wayne Bryant, while the race for the lone council seat available will have to be decided in a runoff.
Loomis, whose campaign slogan was "Together we are making it happen," made his victory happen by capturing 3,873 votes, or 54.5 percent of votes cast, compared to 1,925 votes, or 27 percent for Bryant.
Ken Kinared, a broker and residential property manager, received 1,040 votes, or 14.6 percent of votes cast.
In the council race, Paula Abbott, a loan officer for Allied Mortgage, forced a May runoff with Lyra Done, an associate broker for Prudential Aegis Realty, receiving 2,801 votes, or 39.4 percent, to Done's 1,845 votes, or 25.97 percent. Emily Smith Sleigh, an artist and art-antique seller, trailed with 1,459 votes or 20.53 percent of the ballots cast.
A candidate needed at least 50 percent of the votes cast to avoid a runoff.
The council seat became vacant when Councilman Fran La Sala decided not to seek re-election.
Voters also endorsed, but perhaps too late, the town council's controversial annexation of 341 acres in Neighborhood 12 of Vistoso Partners' Rancho Vistoso development. The endorsement was a solid one with 4,546 votes, or nearly 64 percent in favor, and 2,430 votes, or 34 percent, against.
Also winning overwhelming voter approval was a Home Rule measure that will allow the town to set its own spending limits rather than have the state do so. Nearly 76 percent of the voters approved the measure.
It was a somewhat surprisingly easy victory for Loomis over Bryant, a former councilman and Loomis ally who Loomis portrayed as an impatient man throughout the campaign as he stressed the progress made by the town over the past four years.
Bryant, meanwhile, hammered away at the town's budget deficits and at Loomis for allegedly allowing the town's debt to grow without voter approval and being too pro development.
Loomis' victory may signal a more moderate electorate than many had perceived and certainly is a setback for the pro-environmentalist Oro Valley Neighborhood Coalition.
Most observers expected the annexation question to be a closer call, but its easy passage may prove meaningless in light of the Pima County Board of Supervisors decision the same day the election was taking place to approve rezoning for the construction of 341 acres in Neighborhood 12 .
The county also approved a development agreement with Vistoso Partners, developers of Rancho Vistoso, that will give the county 848 acres of open space and cost Oro Valley jurisdiction over Honey Bee Canyon, Honey Bee Park and most of Honey Bee Wash for the creation by the county of a five-mile Honey Bee Biological Corridor connecting to the Tortolita Mountain Park.
Had the Home Rule measure not passed, Oro Valley would only have been able to spend about $30 million out of a 2001-2002 fiscal year budget totaling $92.4 million, a move that would have forced a drastic reduction in town services.
An estimated 41percent of the town's registered voters cast their ballots in the town's f election, up from 23 percent in the last election. Town officials had hoped for a turnout as high as 60 percent.