Gurtler leads Wells in judgeship race by 174 votes

Bullhead City attorney Chuck Gurtler Jr.

enjoyed a 174-vote lead over appointed Mohave County Superior Court Judge Charlotte Wells of Kingman in the Republican primary Tuesday, according to unofficial results released about 11 p.m.

The race was too close to call, and Wells was not ready to concede when she was contacted shortly afterward.

County Elections Director Allen Tempert said after the unofficial tally that as many as 2,000 early ballots needed to be counted, but he was not sure of the exact number.

The unofficial tally of all 73 precincts showed Gurtler receiving 4,325 votes, or slightly more than 51 percent, compared with 4,151 votes for Wells.

Whoever is named the winner following the official canvass will automatically be seated as Division 1 judge because no Democrats filed to run for the position, which pays $120,750 per year.

Turnout by the county's 79,333 voters was a low, 18.9 percent with 15,028 ballots cast.

Mohave County Recorder Joan McCall expected about 25 percent.

Unofficial turnout figures during past primaries were 26.6 percent in 1998 and 24.6 percent in 2000.

Tempert, who is new on the job, said he expects the official turnout to be "a little bit over" 20 percent.

He said election workers need to count 1,000-2,000 early ballots that arrived in the mail Tuesday or were dropped off at polling sites that day.

The recorder's office, which oversees voter registration, mailed 6,000-7,000 early ballots and received a "ton" in the mail Tuesday, Tempert said.

He said election workers will count the remaining early ballots today and Thursday, adding, "We are going to bust our butts by Friday."

The canvass will be available when the county supervisors meet Monday in Bullhead City, he said.

In any case, Wells was not ready to concede defeat as of 11:20 p.m.

She gathered with supporters at the home of Terry and Harriet Deutschman on Oak Street.

"I will wait till the final results (are released)," Wells said.

"That's all I can say.

Other than that, it has been a great ride."

She said she was uncertain of her plans in the event that Gurtler prevailed in the final tally.

Wells, a Kingman resident who served as city attorney for 10 years, was appointed to the judgeship by Gov.

Jane Hull on Feb.

13 and has served on the bench since April 1.

She ran unsuccessfully for the Division 1 judgeship against then-presiding judge Gary Pope, who created the vacancy by retiring effective Jan.

31.

Efforts to reach Gurtler for comment were unsuccessful.

He and two other attorneys also applied for the judgeship.

The Division 1 race was the only contested countywide primary in Tuesday's election.

Several other incumbents ran unopposed in the partisan primaries and will face challengers in the Nov.

5 elections.

Those candidates and their votes are:

• Cerbat Precinct justice of the peace – Republican incumbent John Taylor of Kingman, 1,428 votes; and Democrat Al Schneider Jr.

of the Butler area, 717 votes.

• Cerbat Precinct constable – Republican incumbent Eunice "E.B." Blevins of Kingman, 1,319 votes; and Democrat Paul Mauser of the unincorporated Kingman area, 707 votes.

• Kingman Precinct constable –Republican Don Martin of Kingman, 1,322 votes; and Democratic incumbent Pam Bibich of Kingman, 795 votes.

Several Republican incumbents ran unopposed in the primary and face no Democrats in the general election.

They are:

• Division 2 Superior Court Judge Randy Bartlett of Lake Havasu City, 7,037 votes.

• Division 3 Judge Steven Conn of Kingman, 7,313 votes.

• Division 4 Judge James Chavez of Kingman, 6,945 votes.

• Clerk to the Superior Court Virlynn Tinnell of Kingman, 6,369 votes.

• Kingman Precinct Justice of the Peace Larry Imus of Kingman, 1,582 votes.

Their names will appear on the Nov.

5 ballot even though they are running unopposed.