SAN LUIS, Ariz. – This year's race for mayor of this city is shaping up as a contest between the incumbent and one of his predecessors.
Incumbent Gerardo Sanchez and Joe Harper, currently a San Luis city councilman, have taken out nominating petitions to run for mayor in the city's Aug. 26 primary election.
Sanchez will be asking voters to elect him to his first full term as mayor. Serving as a city councilman in 2012, he was named by the council to finish the remaining two years of the term of Juan Carlos Escamilla, who stepped down as mayor to run for the state Legislature.
"I have been thinking about (seeking a new term) for some time," said Sanchez. "In the years I have been on the council, I have seen how San Luis has changed, and as mayor for two years, I have pushed priorities that respond to the needs of the community, and not according to politics.
"Now I'm afraid those priorities could change and that instead of continuing on the right path, we could go back."
Harper had served as mayor of San Luis from 1998 to 2003, when he was removed from office in a recall election. He returned to city government in 2012 when he was appointed by the council to fill one of its vacant seats.
Harper says he wants to run for mayor "to promote projects that are not being done now but that are urgent in the city."
He cited as one example city streets that have fallen in disrepair as a result of the state's cuts in road maintenance funds to Arizona cities. Harper has called for the city to assign its own funds for maintenance, although he's failed to win backing for that proposal from other council members.
"The streets are crumbling," he said. "There's money available to repair them, but they haven't wanted to spend it."
Besides the mayoral seat, the council terms of Africa Luna and Marco Pinzon expire this year. Among the two incumbents, only Luna has so far taken out petitions to run for re-election.
First-time council candidates who have taken out petitions are Luis Cabrera, Irving Silva and Ruben Walshe.
To appear on ballot for the August primary, candidates must collect at least 135 petition signatures from registered San Luis voters by May 28.