Tempe Just Elected Its First Black Mayor And First Indigenous City Council Member


By Brandy Rae Ramirez

March 12, 2020

Election results show Mayor-Elect Corey Woods beat incumbent Mark Mitchell by 14%, and Doreen Garlid won with the most votes at 25%.

On Tuesday night, Tempe residents elected the city’s first African American mayor and Native American city council member, furthering an election of firsts that have occurred in Arizona and across the U.S.

Not only is Corey Woods the first African American to serve as Tempe Mayor, he also defeated two-term incumbent Mark Mitchell by 14%.

“It’s a wonderful feeling because I know a lot of the work that my parents and a whole bunch of folks did to provide opportunities to folks like myself, I feel like I realized a dream for them, but just looking forward to serving all the residents of Tempe,” Woods told 12News.

On social media, Woods thanked Tempe voters for trusting him to represent them “again” at City Hall. Woods served for two terms (2008 – 2016) on Tempe’s city council, which included serving as the city’s vice mayor.

However, his work isn’t done.

In his online remarks after winning the election, Woods thanked Mayor Mitchell for his decades of service to Tempe, and his plans moving forward.


“We will build on the great foundation you have established for us,” Woods said. “Thank you to all the City Council candidates who stepped forward to run, and congratulations to Doreen Elder Garlid, Randy Keating and Joel Navarro for being elected alongside me tonight. I’m thrilled to serve with you starting in July.”

Woods said he ran for mayor because he wanted to make an impact on affordable housing, homelessness, and traffic. He also said he wants to make sure neighborhood voices are more represented in the city’s decision-making process.

“I’m humbled, honored and excited to get to work to move our great city forward. Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Woods added.

In addition to Woods, Doreen Garlid made history Tuesday as Tempe’s first Indigenous council member. Garlid, a member of the Navajo Nation, tallied the highest number of votes at more than 16,000, followed by fellow candidates Joel Navarro and Randy Keating, who also won Tuesday night. 

In her online statement, Garlid said, “I’m honored and humbled to announce that Tempe voters elected me to be their next city council member! Thank you, Tempe! I look forward to the next four years of working in partnership with you and carrying out the vision you elected me to achieve.”

According to her biography, Garlid’s grand uncle was a World War II Navajo Code Talker in the U.S. Marines and her great grandfather was a Navajo Medicine Man. She and her mother spent more than four decades offering free educational presentations to communities about Navajo culture and family life. She has also served over 10,000 people in impoverished countries all over the world with Mobilize Medical as a Mission Team Member and Medications Coordinator. 

On her website, Garlid said her goals as city council member include:

  • Giving neighborhoods a voice by empowering residents to speak up for their community
  • Holding city leaders accountable to listen and act on those recommendations
  • Making boards and commissions more resident-driven
  • Advocating for more affordable and workforce housing
  • Addressing homelessness through regional partnerships and cost-effective service models such as Housing First
  • Valuing people before politics and elevating a culture of service in Tempe
  • Ensuring fiscal responsibility and good stewardship of taxpayer dollars
  • Supporting local businesses
  • Acting on climate change and prioritizing sustainability
  • Being smart about growth and development to maintain Tempe’s character
  • Honoring and supporting Tempe’s veterans and military families
  • Making Tempe a welcoming city for all

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, in a press release, said, “On behalf of the Navajo people, we congratulate and commend Doreen Garlid and her team for their victory in Tuesday’s election. She is a positive example for all our Navajo people, many of whom reside in the city of Tempe including many Diné students.”

Woods, Garlid, Navarro, and Keating will be sworn in to four-year terms in July 2020. 




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