One week to go in Tucson city elections

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

TUCSON, Ariz. -- With just over a week before election day, the charges, counter-charges and verbal mud are flying in Tucson's city elections.

Television commercials make strong accusations of failure against council incumbents and link the Democratic candidate for Mayor to those council members.

And the money needed to pay for those commercials has rolled in as well.

Ballots in the city's first all-mail election have been in the voter's hands for two weeks. Just one polling location in each of the city's six wards will be open on November 8 for people to drop off their ballot or request a new one.

And the candidates say the move has prompted a change in campaigning. The theory is that a majority of the people have already filled out their ballot and mailed in it by now.  So the campaigns say their efforts started earlier and then worked to maintain momentum through the entire month prior to election day.

The primary effort seems to be on television in political advertising and the Republican party candidates are on the attack. Ads for Ward 2 council candidate Tyler Vogt attack incumbent Shirley Scott's record, blaming her for $230 million in Rio Nuevo waste. Ads for Ward 4 Republican candidate Jennifer Rawson are on the attack against incumbent Paul Cunningham. But Cunningham is also running ads touting his achievements and defending his record. Scott has opted not to fight back on television.

In the race for Tucson Mayor, both Democrat Jonathan Rothschild and Republican Rick Grinnell are on the air. Ads for Rothschild don't mention his opponent.

"We want people to focus on who I am and what we are bringing to the table," he said.

Grinnell's ads work to tie Rothschild to the five Democrats on the current city council.

"I only going to talk about my ads and I don't consider it mudslinging. It's fair to state the facts," Grinnell told Fox 11. "My opponent is aligned with the current City Council."

Rothschild counters, "There's no truth to that. I've never run for political office."

The ads aren't cheap and new campaign finance reports indicate the Democrats have been able to raise more money to pay for them. The latest reports show Rothschild has raised nearly $300,000 and as of mid-October still had over $70,000 to spend. Grinnell reported raising about $64,000 but had less than $3,000 still in his account. But since that report was filed, Grinnell qualified for public matching funds from the city and has received an infusion of cash.

Republicans have had to battle back in the 2011 elections after none of their candidates for mayor qualified for the ballot in the primary election in August. Grinnell ran as a write-in candidate and received more than enough to get his name on the general election ballot. But his campaign was impacted after he suggested the city move trash pickup to every other week to save money. There was an immediate outcry about the smell that would create in city neighborhoods and he quickly backed off the idea.

The Green Party candidate for mayor, Mary DeCamp, has raised just $5,000 and is staying out of the political ad battle.

In the two contested City Council races, the Democratic incumbents have both raised more than their Republican challengers.

Republican incumbent Mayor Robert Walkup announced earlier this year he would not seek a fifth term.

Ward 1 Democratic council member Regina Romero survived a primary election challenge and faces no opponent in the general election.