PHOENIX — In a faceoff for mayor between two men with City Council and civil experience, Councilman Jeff Bellah was easily winning over Phoenix Urban Renewal Agency Chairman Steve Schulman in early returns Tuesday.
Bellah had received more than two-thirds of ballots cast, or some 1,022 (66.6 percent), compared with 504 (32.86 percent) for Schulman, according to results posted by the Jackson County Elections Office at 10:30 p.m.
With incumbent Mayor Carlos DeBritto retiring from city government after more than a decade, the two men had similar goals in terms of urban renewal and attracting business to the financially strapped town.
A major difference was Bellah's push for careful spending versus Schulman's feelings the city should seek creative ways to finance needed projects and future growth.
Bellah said he was pleased with the early results but hoped to keep Schulman involved in the city's future.
Bellah applauded Schulman's work as chairman of the urban renewal agency and said he hoped to help the city move beyond a negative image and bickering city officials.
"I guess I just feel excited because I think we're going to end up having a pretty good council to work with. I really learned a lot by going out and talking to people all over town," Bellah said.
"I think we have a lot of potential in this town if we can get over all the negative and the fighting of the past and encourage people to communicate."
Schulman was disappointed at the results of the race but did not comment on future plans for his involvement in the city.
"I have always said this election was a referendum on the future of Phoenix and the people made their decision," he said.
"I view that as the city being beyond repair now."
The race for three council seats yielded no competition. Former council members Stan Bartell and Terry Helfrich were elected, and incumbent Carolyn Bartell retained her seat.
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.