Disappointing turnout

Tuesday’s primary election did what it was supposed to do by identifying which candidates for Wichita City Council, mayor and school board will compete in the April 5 general election. Mayor Carl Brewer had a very good night, claiming 76 percent of the vote.

The primary also showed the power of the single voter, raising the possibility that Friday’s counting of 88 provisional ballots could change the outcome of at least one race.

But in a primary that saw only 15,500 of Sedgwick County’s 201,200 voters participate, or 7.7 percent, the real winner was apathy.

“The greatest example of freedom in the world is America, and it’s a shame to me that we have such a pathetic and low voter turnout,” Sedgwick County Commissioner Jim Skelton said Wednesday, recalling the fevered enthusiasm for democracy he observed in Europe at the time of the first free elections after the Berlin Wall fell.

The contest to fill Skelton’s old seat on the City Council, representing southeast Wichita’s District 3, was the saddest of them all on Tuesday, with only 1,746 votes cast (compared with 4,707 in northeast Wichita’s District 2 and 2,111 in southwest Wichita’s District 4).

Fortunately, voters in Wichita and the Wichita school district will have another chance to be heard on April 5. People need to take advantage of the coming public forums and The Eagle’s coverage in print and at kansas.com, then make time to cast a ballot. If they don’t and deserving candidates lose, the community will lose, too.