Primary vote is light
Only 181 Baldwin School District voters turned out Tuesday to vote in the primary election for position No. 4 on the School Board.
Ruth Barkley finished first with 62 votes. Incumbent Chip Hornberger was second with 45. Those two advance to the April 5 general election where three other board positions will be decided, as well as the mayor and three city council members.
Veteran precinct workers Danny and Becky McMillen were surprised and disappointed with Tuesday's turn out.
"It was overwhelming," said Danny McMillen, with tongue firmly in cheek. We had 40 vote. We had 407 registered in the book and we had 40 and that's about 10 percent, which is pretty light."
With the new school district voting positions in place, there was some confusion about who could vote. McMillen said they had to turn away about as many who wanted to vote, but weren't eligible.
As for why apathy ruled, he couldn't say.
"I really couldn't tell you," McMillen said. "I know school district primaries are like that. People don't think it affects them. There weren't any real hot issues.
"Who knows what makes people tick," he said. "It was disappointing, I can tell you that, to have 40 people. That is their right to freedom."
He said reports from other Baldwin voting locations were pretty much the same. He also said the same thing was said about Lawrence voters when the ballots were taken to the Douglas County Courthouse to be counted.
"I guess we did about what everyone else was doing," said McMillen. "It was just a light turnout. It must have been a pretty generic turnout."
District boundaries were changed in 2003 and that made a difference, he said, because people still aren't used to them. There aren't clear cut areas anymore, which caused some confusion.
"It's where there are little jigs and crooks and crannies that make it difficult," he said.
Hornberger was surprised by the results and disappointed with the voter turnout.
"I was pretty well pleased, almost surprised a little actually," Hornberger said of his second-place finish. "I was really surprised that there that many file. I didn't think there was that much interest.
"It could have been a lot better," he said of the 181-vote turnout, adding that now he has more work to do. "I'll probably have to do some more campaigning. I really don't know what else I can do."
Barkley, who won her first election, also mentioned the size of the field.
"With the primary field being so large and the vote distribution being so widespread, I am very pleased to have made it over this first hurdle," said Barkley. "I appreciate the trust that each vote represents and I will be working hard to earn more votes in the general election."
The other results of the race found Doug Mead finishing third with 26 votes, Barbara Tucker fourth with 19, Nathan Feldt fifth with 17 and Toby Ebel sixth with 12.
In the April 5 general election, two other school board positions will be decided along with No. 4. Squaring off for the No. 2 position are incumbent Lonnie Broers and David Norris. In position No. 6, incumbent Ande Parks faces Jay Hundley. Bill Busby is unopposed for position No. 5.
On the city side, voters will choose between incumbent Mayor Ken Hayes and Gary Walbridge; and the top two vote getters from the three-person field of incumbent Amy Cleavinger, Doyle Jardon and Jason Mock will gain city council seats. Incumbent Tony Brown runs unopposed for the other council position.
Poll workers had plenty of time to read, sew or whatever else they could find to do between voters. That also meant plenty of time for talk and a lot of that was about the low voter turnout and the new district boundaries.
"We did have a lot of visitors," said McMillen. "They couldn't vote, but they could visit."