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Kate Gallego elected as Phoenix mayor, 3rd woman to hold position

(Flickr/Gage Skidmore)

PHOENIX — Kate Gallego, a former Phoenix city councilwoman, will now lead the city after she was elected mayor on Tuesday.

Gallego led Daniel Valenzuela, her Democratic opponent and fellow city council member, by about 21,000 votes after the polls closed at 7 p.m.

More than 124,000 votes had been counted Tuesday night for all races, with more updates expected to come through Wednesday afternoon.

“I’m going to work as hard as I can to be a mayor for everyone, whether they voted for Daniel or for residents who voted for me,” Gallego said at her victory party at Crescent Ballroom.

“I look forward to working with the business community, the faith community, the nonprofit community — if we’re going to build the city of the future, we’re all going to need to work together.”

Kate’s Victory Party

Posted by Kate Gallego for Phoenix on Tuesday, March 12, 2019

John Savey told KTAR News that he voted for Gallego because he did not “like all of her negative responses that her opponent was putting out on television.”

Savey said he hopes Gallego tackles education when she enters office “to make sure students have good curriculum and make sure students have good books to study from.”

Gallego will be sworn into office on March 21 and will remain in the seat until 2021, when former Mayor Greg Stanton’s term will expire.

She will be the third female mayor in the city’s history after Margaret Hance and Thelda Williams, and Phoenix’s 61st mayor.

Gallego also made history as being the first Phoenix mayor with a Hispanic surname. Gallego, whose maiden name is Widland, was married to U.S. Rep. Ruben Gallego, but they have since divorced.

Valenzeula congratulated Gallego on Twitter.

“Thank you, Phoenix. I appreciate all you’ve done for me. Tomorrow morning I will continue to serve you as a lifelong public servant,” he said.

The election to replace Stanton was among the longest in the city’s history. He resigned last summer to make a successful run for Congress. Williams had been serving as interim mayor.

Gallego, Valenzuela, Republican Moses Sanchez and Libertarian Nicholas Sarwark first ran for the seat in November.

The runoff election was triggered when no candidate reached the 50 percent threshold needed to win the election.

Gallego won 44 percent of the total vote in November, with Valenzuela following behind at about 26 percent.

In addition to the mayoral election, residents in District 5 and 8 also voted to elect their representatives on Tuesday, but it appears that candidates in both districts will head to a runoff election on May 21.

Audrey Bell-Jenkins, Betty Guardado, Vania Guevara and Lydia Hernandez ran to lead Valenzuela’s former district, while Gilbert Arvizu, Carlos Garcia, Michael Johnson, Lawrence Robinson, Camaron Stevenson, Warren Stewart Jr. and Onesimus A. Stachan were on the ballot to lead Gallego’s.

Guardado and Guevara had 37 and 25 percent of the vote, respectively, by the end of the day Wednesday, while Garcia and Johnson had 28 and 22 percent. The candidates needed 50 percent plus one vote in order to avoid the runoff.

Gallego campaigned on a platform that included prioritizing public safety, job creation and infrastructure investments.

In an interview this month with KTAR News 92.3 FM, she highlighted her background on economic development during her time on the city council from 2013 to 2018.

“While I served on the city council, my district was always one of the leaders in job creation, infrastructure investment, getting safety dollars into our neighborhoods,” she said at the time.

“I want to take that record of success to the mayor’s office.”

Programming update: KTAR News 92.3 FM will cover the reaction from the Phoenix mayoral election, beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday. 

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Ali Vetnar and Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

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