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Voters leaning toward Tempe bonds, but against Mesa tax increase

Tempe police and firefighters appeared closer to getting updated equipment, but public safety in Mesa appeared to be taking it on the chin in unofficial results in the two cities' referendum questions late Tuesday.

While Tempe voters were favoring $240 million in bond issues by a 3-1 ratio with 30 percent of votes counted, voters in Mesa appeared to be turning thumbs-down on a 0.4 percent increase in its sales tax. The tax increase was to generate $23 million for fire and police and $15 million for Arizona State University's proposed Downtown campus.

The Tempe bond issues covered a wide assortment of improvements to the city's sewer system, public buildings and other infrastructure updates. It also covers technology upgrades for police.

With 58 percent of the vote counted, votes against the Mesa tax hike totaled nearly 53 percent to slightly more than 48 percent in favor. The public safety share of the projected revenue from the increase was to go toward both equipment upgrades and hiring of additional police officers and firefighters.

That apparent anti-tax mood also seemed to be prevalent in the city's only council race. In Mesa's Second District runoff, small business owner Jeremy Whitaker held a lead over Shelley Allen, a retired city economic development official. Whitaker partially ran on his opposition to the tax increase.

With 63 percent of the vote tallied, Whitaker held a 51.5 percent lead over Allen's 48.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Gilbert voters appeared to return incumbent Town Council member Jared Taylor to another term and elected newcomer Scott Anderson, a natural resource manager for Coconino County.

In the four-way race for two vacancies, Anderson led with 27 percent and Taylor had slightly more than 25 percent, with 77 percent of the vote counted.

Former town redevelopment commission chairman Jim Torgeson was running in third place with just under 25 percent, and Joel Anderson coming in last with 22 percent.

In Chandler, where one at-large seat was up for election, small-business consultant Mark Stewart was beating finance executive Matt Eberle 54-46 percent with 83 percent of precincts reporting. 

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