Kesha Hodge Washington, Kevin Robinson claim victory in Phoenix City Council runoff elections

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Signs on the Devonshire Senior Center in Phoenix point voters toward where to cast their ballots. Photo taken March 14, 2023. (Photo by Gianna Abdallah/Cronkite News)

PHOENIX – Unofficial results are in from Tuesday’s special election for Phoenix City Council, with Kesha Hodge Washington claiming victory in the District 8 race over incumbent Carlos Garcia. And Kevin Robinson proclaimed his success in the District 6 contest with his opponent, Sam Stone, conceding on Twitter and wishing Robinson well.

The Phoenix City Clerk’s office had about 4,000 ballots left to process Tuesday at 10 p.m., according to spokesperson Alejandro Montiel-Cordova. The ballots will be processed over the next several days.

(Audio by Roxanne De La Rosa/Cronkite News)

As of Wednesday morning, Washington and Garcia were separated by 1,829 votes, and Robinson led Stone by 8,493.

The special election was held after no candidate won a majority in the race for those two seats in November.

The race for the District 6 seat being vacated by Council member Sal DiCiccio pitted DiCiccio’s chief of staff Stone, against former police officer Robinson, who got 17% and 19% of the vote, respectively, in November. In District 8, Garcia was defending his seat against Washington, a former assistant attorney general.

District 6 includes Ahwatukee, Arcadia, Biltmore and a portion of north-central Phoenix. District 8 includes South Phoenix and some of the eastern portion of the city.

The seat came open because DiCiccio was term limited. Council members can serve up to three consecutive four-year terms.

Robinson served as a police officer for 36 years and is a lecturer at Arizona State University’s School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. He was endorsed by U.S. Rep. Greg Stanton and Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, among others, according to his campaign website.

Besides being DiCiccio’s chief of staff, Stone previously worked for the Joe Foss Institute, a civic education nonprofit. Stone had support from DiCiccio and Kari Lake, the Donald Trump-endorsed Republican 2022 gubernatorial candidate.

In District 8, Garcia is finishing Gallego’s term after she vacated her seat to run for mayor..

But Gallego endorsed his challenger, Washington,who practiced law in Phoenix for 20 years. In addition to Gallego, Washington had been endorsed by Stanton and Secretary of State Adrian Fontes, according to her website.

Garcia received 39.36% of the votes in the November elections, and Washington received 37.88%.

At a polling place at the Devonshire Senior Center Tuesday, Robinson said he was cautiously optimistic about the District 6 outcome.

“All the metrics we set for ourselves we met, so hopefully that will result in a positive outcome later this evening,” Robinson said.

Robinson said voter turnout there was light, which was what he expected. He emphasized the importance of canvassing and getting out the vote.

“Getting out the vote was critical, and we’ve partnered with so many different groups and organizations to do just that,” Robinson said. “I think we’ve been very successful at that with regard to all the goals we put for ourselves early into the campaign.”

Robinson’s opponent Stone was not immediately available for comment Tuesday, but his campaign website noted he wasn’t a career politician.

“I have never wanted to run for public office, and still don’t. But I am because I believe, after everything I’ve seen over the last few years, that Phoenix is at a tipping point,” Stone said on his website.

Stone had also urged people on Twitter to get to the polls. “I need your vote now if you want to save the Phoenix we love from the same failed liberal policies that destroyed California,” he wrote.

District 8 candidate Washington said at the Burton Barr Central Library voting center Tuesday that she felt good and connected with as many voters as possible throughout her campaign.

“I had a plan, I executed it, and now it’s the voters’ choice,” Washington said. “I am hopeful that I will be successful this evening, but I am excited about the opportunity to serve Phoenix.”

Washington said she hoped for a decent voter turnout.

“Ideally, I would like to see more and more people become involved in our civic process and realize how important local elections are to everyday life,” Washington said.

If the unofficial results hold, Washington will be the first African American woman on the council.

“I would be grateful for that, but I would also be cognizant that I represent the entirety of the district, not just the demographic that looks like myself,” she said.

Garcia did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Election Day, but according to his website, “his work stands on the belief that diverse people with common struggles and vision have the power to change the course of history.”

Garcia was a community organizer before he became a council member, and he co-founded the nonprofit Puente Human Rights Movement. He campaigned against Arizona’s controversial SB 1070 “show me your papers” law and has been outspoken about police use of force.

Garcia has had tension with some council members, including Gallego, who was talking with voters at the Devonshire Senior Center Tuesday morning.

“I am really looking forward to working with the council,” Gallego said. “I hope we will get people who are focused on the future and who can help guide the city of Phoenix as we make incredibly important decisions.”

(Video by Conor McGill/Cronkite News)
Kylie Werner KY-lee WER-ner (she/her/hers)
News Reporter, Phoenix

Kylie Werner expects to graduate in December 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a minor communications. Werner, is assigned to Cronkite News this semester.

Conor McGill Co-nor Mc-Gill (he/him)
News Broadcast Reporter, Phoenix

Conor McGill expects to graduate in May 2023 with a bachelor’s degree in sports journalism and a minor in educational studies. McGill has interned with PHX TV and the Tony the Tiger Sun Bowl.

Roxanne De La Rosa RAHK-san de-la-ROH-sa (she/her)
News Reporter, Cronkite Noticias

Roxanne De La Rosa expects to graduate in May 2024 with a master’s degree in mass communication studies. De La Rosa has interned as a nonprofits reporter and produced the Storyteller Project at the Arizona Republic. She is a producer for Arizona Horizon at Arizona PBS.

Gianna Abdallah JEE-anna ab-DAH-luh (she/her)
News Visual Journalist, Phoenix

Gianna Abdallah expects to graduate in spring 2024 with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication and a minor in tourism management. Abdallah has not yet done an internship but has done many freelance jobs.