Archive for Thursday, July 27, 2006

Tuesday primary has implications for Baldwin voters

July 27, 2006

Both Democrats and Republicans have primary races to consider Tuesday, but they won't be voting in the same races.

Baldwin City area Republicans have a primary for Palmyra Township Clerk. Incumbent Jan Ballinger is facing Don Johnson in that race. For Democrats, incumbent state board of education member Janet Waugh is being challenged by Jesse Hall. Both are from the Kansas City area.

The candidates in the races do have something in common, however. Barring a write-in candidate winning in the general election, the winners of Tuesday's primary elections will win the posts. There's no Democratic candidate for Palmyra Township Clerk and there's no Republican for the District 1 state school board position.

Both situations are examples of how voters need to keep up with politics, said Channette Kirby, Baldwin's Democratic Precinct Chairwoman.

"Jesse Hall is a stealth candidate," said Kirby. "He's not representative of any Democratic values. This is a very important election. In fact, I'm doing a calling tree to let people know how important it is."

Waugh was one of the moderates on the state school board that lost important votes to conservatives by 6-4 counts, including the controversial addition of teaching evolution in Kansas schools. There are several other primary races for state school board positions.

As for the Palmyra Township Clerk race, it's caught people by surprise. There's rarely a primary for the township positions and often candidates go unopposed even in general elections. Frank Foye, has been quizzing his customers about it.

"About 85 to 90 percent of the people I ask don't know there's an election or what a township clerk does," said Foye.

Palmyra Township comprises all of Baldwin and much of the outlying area. It is governed by a township board, which consists of a trustee (Rex Hagerman), a treasurer (John Veseky) and a clerk (Ballinger). All three are voting members. Each of the three positions is up for election every four years, but on a rotating basis. The board's main duties are overseeing the road crews and the Palmyra Fire Department.

The road crew, consisting of three employees, maintains county roads in the township and has a budget of $375,000. There's a general budget of $100,000 and another $58,000 budget for the fire department.

Ballinger has been clerk since 2001 when she was appointed to the position by the trustee after the previous clerk resigned. She has since gone through election. She takes the minutes at the monthly meetings, reads them the next month for approval, reviews bills and signs checks along with the trustee and treasurer.

She ran unopposed in the last election. This time, with the primary, she's had numerous questions about the position and about who can vote.

"It's really been interesting," said Ballinger. "I didn't realize how many people didn't know they could vote in a township election. All of Baldwin is in the township. It's the largest township in the county."

She said she has gotten to know a lot of people in Baldwin as a result of being township clerk and wants to continue.

"It's not about the money we get paid," she said. "I really enjoy it. It's a job that I take seriously."

As for why Johnson is running against her, she doesn't know.

"I don't have a clue," said Ballinger.

Despite repeated calls, Johnson could not be reached for comment. He did not return messages left by the Signal.

The usual polling places will be open for the primary from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday. Results will be posted on the Signal's Web site at www.baldwincity.com.

Voters can also advance vote at the Douglas County Courthouse in Lawrence. Additional voter information is also available at the county clerk's Web site at www.douglascountyelections.com.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.