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In previous years, Sedona City Council elections would kick off in March and conclude in May. The council election was also divorced from other ballots, meaning Sedona voters had one campaign on which to decide.Managing Editor Christopher Fox Graham

This year, thanks to changes implemented by Arizona state legislators, almost all elections have been moved to November, meaning local elections are on the same ballot as national races.

Many voters, especially younger ones, assume their individual votes do not matter. Part of that stems from the somewhat screwy winner-take-all Electoral College to choose the president, which allowed Rutherford B. Hayes, Benjamin Harrison and George W. Bush to win the White House while losing the national popular vote. All other elections except president are determined by popular vote, making all votes important.

Individual votes matter most importantly in small, local elections. State propositions are often won by a handful of votes. Proposition 203, Arizona’s medical marijuana law, for instance, initially appeared to have failed in 2010, but as late and provisional ballots were counted, won by 4,340 votes.

Several years ago, two candidates for Sedona mayor were separated by less than 10 votes, which spread a little wider on a recount. Had a dozen more people cast ballots, the election and the following years of governance could have been completely different — who knows how much those few votes could have changed our city?

This year, the Sedona City Council has one of the largest fields of candidates ever. There are eight candidates running for three seats on council.

We will cover forums to which all candidates have been invited and attempt to include quotes from each of the candidates so our readers know how they stand on issues.

Beginning July 18, the Sedona Red Rock News will feature two candidates in stories on our Front Page every Friday. In the same edition, we will publish two essays written by those two candidates. Ronald Budnick and Jerry Frey are scheduled for July 18, Scott Jablow and Tom Lamkin on July 25, Angela LeFevre and Robert O’Donnell on Aug. 1, and Rio Robson and Jon “J.T.” Thompson on Aug. 8. Mayoral candidates Cliff Hamilton and Sandy Moriarty will be featured on Aug. 15. We will also publish a candidate roundup prior to the primary election on Tuesday, Aug. 26.

Your votes in the primary election matter. Due to the large field, not all of the council candidates will survive the primary. Voters can vote for up to three candidates in the council race, so if 3,000 citizens vote, there are potentially 9,000 votes that could be cast. If 100 people only vote for two candidates, there would be theoretically 8,900 votes cast. According to the state’s formula, those 8,900 votes would be divided by the number of seats — by three to 2,966.66 — then cut in half — 1,483.33 — and rounded up to the nearest whole number, 1,484, marking the theoretical threshold candidates need to win the primary outright. If no candidates win in the primary, only the top six will race for three seats in the general election. If one candidate wins, four candidates will race for the remaining two seats. If two candidates win, only the top two will race for the last seat.

The mayor’s race is separate, so the two candidates will need to win 50 percent plus one vote to win outright in the primary.

We will also cover the candidates leading up to the runoff/general election on Tuesday, Nov. 4.

Every vote matters, which is why we will do our best to provide coverage for our readers so they can make an informed choice when determining who will lead Sedona into the future.

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