Archive for Thursday, February 1, 2007

Primary election plans fall into place

February 1, 2007

In the upcoming primary election, the difference between voting measures for Baldwin City Council and Baldwin School Board will again be evident.

There are four openings on the school board and three for city council. However, because three incumbent board members are running unopposed, voters will only be casting a single choice in the Feb. 27 primary. On the city side, voters can choose up to three candidates.

"You vote for one," said Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew regarding the school board primary. "You vote for how many positions are open."

There are four people vying for the No. 7 at-large position on the board -- Teresa Arnold, Doug Mead, Joshua Mihesuah and Dave Wagner. Incumbents Alison Bauer, Blaine Cone and Scott Lauridsen run unopposed and won't appear on the ballot until the April 3 general election.

Incumbents Nancy Brown, Tony Brown and Ted Brecheisen Jr. face four challengers in their attempt to be re-elected to the city council. Those candidates are Jennifer Hayes, Jason Mock, Kenny Niehoff and Ken Wagner. Voters there have options as to how many votes to cast.

"It does get confusing," said Shew. "With the council, voters can vote for three or fewer. You could go in and vote for just one if you like."

Of course, that's all that school board voters can choose. Shew thinks the new voting machines now in place will help with that. In the past, when voters chose more candidates than allowed, the ballot was discarded.

"If you over voted in the past, you wouldn't know," he said. "The new machines will tell you you over voted. Then you return the ballot, get a new one and vote over. I think in this election we will see how the new technology will help."

From the primary, six of the seven city council candidates will advance to the general election. On the school board side, two of the four candidates for position No. 7 will advance.

Voter turnout for primaries are historically low, he said, but adds interest is hard to gauge.

"I always hope for a good turnout," said Shew. "It always depends on interest in the race. Primaries are not as big of a draw as a general. I think you'll have a good turnout because there are both city and school board races.

"My hope is 20 to 25 percent turnout," he said. "It could be higher."

The primary will cost the school district a little more than $3,000 and the city a little less. Primary elections are paid for by the entities involved, unlike the general election. That's another reason Shew is hopeful for a good turnout.

"It's up to the candidates to get people interested in voting," he said. "There is a cost to this election and the people should get out and vote. The voters have the responsibility to vote."

That $6,000-plus price tag will be paid, regardless of turnout.

"Right," said Shew.

Unregistered voters have until Feb. 12 to register for the Feb. 27 primary and until March 19 to register for the April 3 general election. Registration can be done at City Hall or the Douglas County Courthouse. Additional information, including advance voting, can be obtained by calling the clerk's office at (785) 832-5182 or the election Web site at www.douglascountyelections.com..

Most polling places around Baldwin City will be open, but there are exceptions, he said. Voters in the south Eudora and east Waukarusa districts will vote at Vinland. The 46 Baldwin School District voters in Franklin County will vote in Baldwin City.

"The school district goes over county lines," said Shew. "Where there aren't primaries in those districts, those voters will come to Baldwin. We send those people letters."

The Signal has sent out candidate questionnaires to all 14 people running for office and those profiles will be published in future editions, as well as be available on-line at www.baldwincity.com.

So far, the Baldwin City Chamber of Commerce has not announced public forum plans for the candidates which it has put on in the past.

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