A majority of voters fail to exercise public trust
"Call the Tune" by Mike Anthony
A majority of voters in south county and throughout St. Louis County once again declined to exercise what has been described as a "public trust'' as evidenced by the appalling lack of turnout in most elections last week.
President Grover Cleveland in his first inaugural address stated, "Your every voter, as surely as your chief magistrate, exercises a public trust.''
Unfortunately, a majority of voters failed to uphold that public trust in the April 6 elections.
Voters in the city of Crestwood once again led the way in terms of turnout April 8 despite the fact that two of four aldermanic candidates were unopposed.
More than 36 percent of the registered voters in Crestwood's Ward 3 cast ballots last week in a race in which incumbent Bernadine "Bernie'' Alexander was defeated by challenger Jerry Miguel.
In Crestwood's Ward 2, nearly 26 percent of registered voters cast ballots in a three-way race for the aldermanic seat being vacated by Gary Vincent, who decided not to seek re-election. Jim Kelleher prevailed in that race over Jeff Schlink and Dan Himebaugh.
In Crestwood's Ward 1, 12.24 percent of voters cast their voters for incumbent Richard Breeding, who was unopposed. Ward 4 Alderman Pat Duwe also was unopposed in an election that drew 17.73 percent of the ward's registered voters.
In the only contested race in Green Park, Ward 2 Alderman Tony Konopka was defeated by challenger Jackie Wilson as 21.06 percent of the ward's registered voters cast ballots.
In Green Park's Ward 1, 14.73 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for Judy Betlach, who was unopposed. In Ward 3, 11.89 percent of registered voters cast their ballots for Fred Baras, who also was unopposed. That's better than two years ago when Mr. Baras received 24 votes of 25 cast, while 93.44 of Ward 3 voters didn't go to the polls.
In St. Louis County, 19.9 percent of registered voters cast their ballots on the Proposition P, an eighth-of-a-cent sales tax increase to benefit county parks. The measure was defeated as it received 60,564 "no'' votes and 59,877 "yes'' votes.
In the Mehlville School District, turnout was abysmal as 11.04 percent — 6,677 — of the district's 60,477 registered voters made it to the polls as three candidates vied for two school board seats.
Though abysmal, this year's turnout was better than the 8.13 percent of registered voters who cast ballots last year.
In the Mehlville race, incumbent Rita Diekemper was re-elected along with Tom Correnti. Karl Frank Jr. came in third.
It's a shame that more voters don't take advantage of this opportunity to have their voices heard. As we've said before, we hope to see more increased voter turnout and more citizens running for public office in the future.
This is the one forum that citizens have that can't be shut done by elected officials who don't want to hear or who just don't care what the public has to say.
Perhaps Abraham Lincoln said it best: "The ballot is stronger than the bullet.''