On Tuesday, Kansans will decide municipal elections in the fall for the first time. Here’s hoping the Legislature was right and that the move produces greater participation.
Serious matters are before the residents of Lawrence, who will select three new city commissioners, three new school board members and decide whether to continue with three sales taxes for another 10 years. Similarly, residents in Baldwin City, Lecompton, Eudora and Wellsville must decide contested races for their city councils and/or school boards.
Historically, municipal elections in Kansas were held in the spring; however, in 2016 the Legislature voted to move such elections to the same November time frame that general elections are held. The goal was to encourage participation and achieve efficiencies. The 2017 municipal election cycle is the first one to be held in November. Communities are always best served by elections with the broadest turnout possible, so it will be encouraging if the move to the fall enhances municipal election turnout.
To remind voters of what’s at stake:
City of Lawrence residents will vote on three sales taxes that will expire in 2019 if they are not renewed. The taxes are a 0.2 percent sales tax to provide funding for the city’s bus service, a 0.3 percent sales tax to provide funding for city infrastructure projects and a 0.05 percent sales tax to create a fund to provide support for affordable housing initiatives.
Lawrence residents also will choose three City Commission members from the following field of six candidates: Dustin Stumblingbear, Jennifer Ananda, Mike Anderson, Bassem Chahine and incumbents Matthew Herbert and Lisa Larsen.
Lawrence school district residents will select three school board members from a field of five active candidates: Ronald "G.R." Gordon-Ross, James Alan Hollinger, Melissa Johnson, Kelly Jones and Gretchen Alix Lister.
Baldwin City residents will choose between Marilyn Pearse and Casey Simoneau for mayor and select two council members from six candidates: Brian Cramer, Brian Messenger, Susan Pitts, Peter Sexton, Shane Starkey and A.J. Stevens.
Eudora school district residents will elect three school board members from a field of four candidates: Michael Kelso, Eric Votaw, Eric Ahlander and Joseph Hurla.
In the Lecompton school district, three of four school board races are contested. Brian Damme and DeAnn Hupe Seib are running for position 2; Ryan Blosser and Jarae Essman are running for position 4; and Stephanie Confer and Nick Fergus are running for position 6.
In the Wellsville school district, in Franklin County, three of four school board races are contested. Tamera Aamold faces Shane Pruitt in position 4; Clyde Coons and Amanda Donovan are running for position 5; and Juanita Peckham and Todd Willmarth are running for position 6.
Voting is a key civic duty in our democracy. If you haven’t already, do your part and vote in your local elections on Tuesday.