Fewer than 25,000 of Sedgwick County’s 272,000 registered voters are expected to cast ballots in Tuesday’s election. But the few will be mighty, having a sizable impact on policymaking by city councils and school boards from now until 2017.
Helping choose these local leaders Tuesday may not avoid pangs of regret later, but it can’t hurt. So please do your community the service of voting.
Especially with state legislators having threatened to move these spring contests to fall and ruin the nonpartisanship of local governing bodies, a strong turnout would be well-timed.
The winners will have some hard work ahead, as school districts and cities try to make the best of the fragile economy’s new signs of life and the belt-tightening, unfunded mandates and clueless cuts forced on them by Topeka and Washington, D.C.
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Wichitans who live in districts 1, 3, 4 and 6 will choose their representatives on the Wichita City Council. Those who take the bench next week will help decide how to ensure the drought doesn’t dry up the city’s water supply, how to make the bus system better and fiscally sound, when to get going on the scaled-down plan for a new Central Library, and how to pay for $2.1 billion in water and sewer system improvements over the next 30 years. They will need to keep downtown revitalization moving and be part of figuring out how Wichita and Sedgwick County can be more competitive in business recruitment and retention.
All residents of USD 259 can vote in the two contested races for the school board, for districts 2 and 5. The future of Southeast High School may be settled by the time the new board members take their seats in July, but other decisions relating to the 2008 bond plan will remain. Then there is the daunting obligation to serve 50,000 students when the state Legislature won’t live up to its constitutional obligation to “make suitable provision” for financing schools.
To learn about the candidates, consult the 2013 Voter Guide that appeared in the March 24 Eagle or visit the online version at Kansas.com. The Eagle editorial board’s endorsements in contested races are as follows (find full endorsements at Kansas.com/opinion):
Wichita City Council
District 1: Lavonta Williams
District 3: James Clendenin
District 4: Joshua Blick
District 6: Janet Miller
Wichita school board
District 2: Scott B. Poor
District 5: Michael Rodee