Sparta High School polling place, April 2, 2019

A citizen receives her ballot to vote at Sparta High School on April 2.

A total of 6,962 voters from Christian County cast ballots in the municipal elections held April 2.

According to the Christian County Clerk’s Office, the turnout represents 12.48 percent of the 55,787 registered voters in Christian County. That 12.48 percent turnout was, believe it or not, higher than Christian County’s top election official anticipated.

“We did better than I expected, but overall when you look at the number of people who came out and voted, very few people made decisions for all of us,” Christian County Clerk Kay Brown said.

Delving further, 4,559 ballots were cast in the Nixa Public Schools district. That’s actually very good turnout for the election that determined a $15 million bond issue, a 41-cent tax levy increase and the decision to retain incumbents Glenn Scott and Mike Copeland on the Nixa Board of Education.

What about the other 2,403 ballots cast across the rest of Christian County?

How about Ozark? With it’s population of almost 20,000 people, a total of 391 residents cast their votes for unopposed Mayor Rick Gardner to have another term in office. Aldermen Ted Smith and John Torgerson also ran unopposed races to represent their respective wards.

Maybe Mr. Gardner is just so good at being mayor that no one else dared challenge him. This editorial isn’t about criticizing elected officials who do their best to do the work they are elected to do and take it seriously. However, if Gardner truly is that good at being mayor, wouldn’t it be good to give him some feedback through thousands of affirming votes?

If there are no contested races on your ballot, is it okay to stay out of the polling place on Election Day?

“As far as the April election goes, that truly is one of the most important elections because that’s when our local community usually puts their issues on the ballot and their board members, and that’s when our local community really comes into play and that’s going to have more influence on our daily life,” Brown said.

Voters in Clever exerted influence in a tremendous way by choosing write-in candidate Josiah Fuller as the next alderman for the city’s West Ward. Fuller officially took 78 votes to unseat incumbent Wade Pearce, who received 45 votes.

It’s just the second time in the 16 years that she has been county clerk that Brown can recall a write-in candidate successfully winning an election. Fuller wanted the Clever Board of Alderman’s makeup to change, so he and presumably 77 other voters made it happen. He campaigned steadily door-to-door for more than a week and electioneered outside his polling place on April 2. It worked for Fuller and his supporters.

The rare success of a write-in candidate, more so than any $15 million bond issue ever could, proves just how much votes matter in municipal elections.

“If you don’t vote, don’t complain,” is a phrase that gets tossed around a great deal during election cycles, but really, when has a preemptive warning ever stopped anyone from complaining later?

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