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Changes coming to Phoenix after mayor’s City Council candidates appear victorious

Unofficial results show two City Council candidates endorsed by Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego as the winners in Tuesday’s runoff election. The election was required by law because no candidate received a majority of votes last November.

It looks like the race for Phoenix City Council District 8 is historic. Kesha Hodge Washington, an attorney from Laveen, is on track to become the first African American woman to serve on the Phoenix City Council.

“I find it exciting because I do understand the value of representation at the table but I’m also committed to ensuring that I’m representing the entirety of the district. I don’t want any demographic to feel that I am not representing them,” she said.

Hodge Robinson, who had 56% of the vote, thinks incumbent Carlos Garcia lost some voters after focusing on police reform.

“I think we need to ensure our community officers come from our community and have a stake in our community and I think he is more of the we don’t need any more officers, we need more community resources,” she said. “I think that comprehensive, more inclusive approach is probably more what the district wanted.”

Addressing homelessness, affordable housing and attracting more economic development are Hodge Washington’s priorities for the district, which includes south Phoenix, and parts of downtown and east Phoenix. Garcia’s campaign did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday night.

A retired police officer who says public safety is his top priority is expected to represent District 6,  which includes Ahwatukee, Arcadia and north-central Phoenix. Unofficial results show Kevin Robinson with more than 60% of the vote.

“What I heard time and time again is they wanted somebody who was going to, to the best of their ability, work with others on the council, with others in the city, not to be an obstructionist,” he said.

Robinsons’ opponent, Sam Stone, conceded Tuesday night. Stone was the former chief of staff for outgoing Councilmember Sal DiCiccio who termed out. 

Although the mayor endorsed and raised money for Robinson, he said  he won’t be a rubber stamp for anybody.

“There's nothing wrong with partnerships, there’s nothing wrong with working well with people. But I’ve known the mayor for a very long time, you know, and she and I do not agree on everything. But, I think healthy discourse is always good,” he said.

Having Robinson and Hodge Washington on the council will help the mayor counterbalance the more left-leaning members. Garcia, along with Councilwomen Betty Guardado, Laura Pastor and Yassamin Ansari agree with many of Gallego’s priorities, however, their approaches differ.

For example, Councilmembers Garcia, Pastor and Guardado pushed for a vote banning source of income discrimination in housing matters. While Gallego supported the ban, she said she would have preferred hearing stakeholder input before voting. In 2020, Gallego withdrew her own proposal regarding police accountability after it became clear she did not have enough votes and ended up supporting Garcia’s proposal.

Ballot tabulation will continue this week, including early ballots received by 7pm on election day. The canvass of vote, which is when the City Council formally accepts the election results, is scheduled for March 22. Councilmembers will take their seats in April.

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As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.