Marana's first all vote-by-mail election is under way, with the town's registered voters receiving ballots beginning this weekend.
Voting in the primary election continues until March 12. Voters will fill four open seats on the six-member City Council.
Incumbents Patti Comerford, Herb Kai, Carol McGorray and Jon Post will face challenges from Kent Crotts and David Morales.
Members who receive more than 50 percent of the vote will lock down a seat and won't have to run in the May 21 general election. Those who don't receive more than 50 percent of the votes will compete for any remaining seats in the general election in May.
Also at stake are a pair of questions that will conclude a longtime dispute between the town and county over a wastewater plant.
After years of jostling in courts, Marana and Pima County agreed to negotiate ownership and operation of the wastewater reclamation plant at 14393 N. Luckett Road.
The plant cost Pima County ratepayers $23 million to build and another $4 million to finance. The town is attempting to take over the facility by paying the remaining debt of about $14.5 million.
The vote is on because the Arizona Court of Appeals ruled a question on the 1988 ballot - which allowed the town to build, purchase, acquire, lease or own and operate a municipal wastewater and sewer system - was not specific enough.
Marana needs voters to approve the two measures to let the town take over the plant. If the questions fail, the county will own and operate the plant.
"Participating in the democratic process is important," Marana Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said. "Being aware that there is an election going on is important, to understand what the issues are."
The all-mail election is new for the town, but Davidson thinks it will increase voter participation.
"We can look at what other communities have done with this, and we've definitely seen that voter participation goes up," he said. "You see a definite increase in the number of people voting."
Registration for the election closed Feb. 11. Town Clerk Jocelyn Bronson said she expects the voting process to go smoothly. The town has contracted Pima County to count ballots.
Those who lose their ballot or don't receive one can visit the Marana Municipal Complex, 11555 W. Civic Center Drive, or the Pima County Recorder's Office, 115 N. Church Ave., to receive a provisional ballot.
Did you know?
The elected officers of Marana consist of six council members and a directly elected mayor. Council members serve four-year, overlapping terms as provided by state statute. Elections are every two years, in odd-numbered years.
Source: Town of Marana
For more information on the election: Visit www.marana.com/index.aspx?NID=1248 online.
Contact reporter Phil Villarreal at 573-4130 or firstname.lastname@example.org