The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
This past week was a busy one. The Taste of Warrensburg event Tuesday night raised money for automatic defibrillators to be placed in emergency vehicles, which should save at least some of the heart attack victims in the county. Saturday featured a good Warrensburg Sesquicentennial "Welcome to 1855" event. These events were sandwiched between the two Warrensburg Spring Clean-up weekends. I suspect that each of these events drew more participation than the really important event of the week – municipal and school board elections.
Only around 10% of Warrensburg-area voters turned out for the election, and most of those who did turn out voted for incumbents first, then familiar names. One may wonder why so few voters turned out in an election that affects so many people and families locally. A large majority of the families educate their children in public schools, and school taxes are the single largest component of our property taxes. City sales & property taxes are another major component of our tax bills.
One can always blame the voters for the low turnout, but it seems to me that election turnout is affected by two things – passion & information. This election lacked both. Local media has made a reasonable effort to cover the candidates by way of profiles. However, the profiles often don't address specific issues or provide detailed positions on issues. While the Warrensburg Chamber held a "meet the candidates" opportunity at a Chamber Breakfast, no other groups stepped forward to provide information or candidate forums.
The candidates themselves generally ran stealth campaigns. With the exception of the race for the 2-year seat on the city council, the candidates did almost nothing to tell voters what they stood for. A few of the school board candidates had some minimal ads, but certainly nothing that really informed voters. If candidates aren't interested enough to put their messages and qualifications before the voters, voters may feel justified for their lack of interest in voting on those candidates.
We have elected school board members who have not told us how they stand on tax systems & rates, disciplinary systems, technology, or any other issue. We don't know how our new city council members stand on development issues, city taxes, garbage pickup or any other issue. Since the public doesn't demand more, I guess we deserve what we get.
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