Two-time Nogales City Council candidate Saulo Bonilla, Jr. and longtime City Councilman Nubar Hanessian are headed for a runoff in November’s general election after both candidates fell short of the votes required to win election outright in the Aug. 4 primary.

Five candidates were vying for three open seats on the Nogales City Council when voters went to the polls last Tuesday. But unofficial results indicate that only two of those candidates – Liza Montiel and Jorge Maldonado – were elected outright by earning votes on more than half of the 2,909 ballots cast.

That leaves Bonilla and Hanessian to battle for the remaining seat. And with two seats decided already, write-in candidate Mary Darling won’t get her name on the ballot in November.

Bonilla garnered 1,273 votes (43.8 percent of ballots cast) and Hanessian pulled in 1,260 (43.8 percent), according to a vote tally sent last Friday night. And 163 voters chose a write-in candidate for council last week, which represented 5.6 percent of ballots cast (Darling was the only official write-in candidate.)

The two decided seats will be filled by newcomer Liza Montiel and incumbent Councilman Jorge Maldonado, who received 1,712 votes (58.9 percent of ballots cast) and 1,626 votes (55.9 percent), respectively.

Their four-year terms will start when new council members are sworn in next January.

The unofficial vote tally was provided to the city by the County Election Office in a report dated Aug. 7. Tara Hampton, the county’s elections director, said on Monday that the numbers hadn’t changed since then, though the county was still processing write-in ballots.

“All early, election day and provisional ballots have been tabulated for the City of Nogales,” Hampton wrote in an email.

While Darling could still mount a write-in campaign for the general election, she would likely struggle to compete with two candidates in Bonilla and Hanessian who will have their names printed on the ballot.

According to city rules, If any council seats are left undecided after the primary election, the general election ballot features twice as many candidates as remaining spots, with the top vote-earners in the primary election getting printed space on the ballot.

A candidate in a runoff election only has to win more votes than their opponent to be elected and does not need to earn votes on a majority of ballots.

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