- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 12, 2020

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) - A woman who has long opposed massive development in Tusayan on the outskirts of Grand Canyon National Park is the unofficial winner of the mayoral race.

The Coconino County Recorder’s Office on Wednesday said Clarinda Vail won more than 61% of the vote from the Aug. 4 primary election in her bid to oust current Mayor Craig Sanderson, who was seeking a third two-year term.

The county had dozens of outstanding ballots to process and count before posting the unofficial results, which don’t become final until the town canvasses them. That likely will be next week.

Tusayan relies heavily on revenue from the millions of people who drive through the town each year on their way to the Grand Canyon’s more popular South Rim for revenue. Up until 2010, it wasn’t considered a town, but a state law that catered to Tusayan allowed it to incorporate.

Even before that, developers have eyed the outpost nestled among the forest where restaurants, gift shops and hotels line the state highway. Development been a major point of contention in the town.

Sanderson, the chief pilot for Grand Canyon Scenic Airlines, has supported the development while Vail, a property manager and a Tusayan native, has not.

Sanderson and Vail agree on the need for private housing in a town where most everyone lives in company housing, better internet access and a sports complex. But the timelines on those projects have been stalled over various issues.

In a statement Wednesday, Vail said she plans to initiate reforms to make sure local sales tax revenues help accomplish projects residents demand such as the sports complex.

Vail also wants to make sure public safety gets needed funding and plans to undertake new initiatives to bring quality housing to the town.

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