Ballot set for April 2 election

January 16, 2013

Depending on where voters live, the April 2 municipal election may be exciting or uneventful, due to district boundary lines that are different for each of the races on the ballot.

“Not everyone will vote in the contested races,” said Pettis County Clerk Nick La Strada. “For example, in the city council races, only people in Ward 4 would vote for that Ward 4 race, the same with the (Pettis County) Ambulance District. It all depends on the boundaries.”

Library Tax

The Sedalia Public Library is asking for a 7-cent tax increase that will sunset in 25 years. Expected to bring in about $110,000 a year, the money would go strictly to the repair of the 112-year-old building, which was closed in August due to structural concerns.

“Right now our debt service payments will be $35,000 a year for the next 20 years on our $1.5 million bond to repair the library,” said Library Director Pam Hunter. “If the tax is not passed by voters, we have an agreement with the city that they will help us out with that debt service payment, but it will take us longer to pay off and could possibly have a negative impact on library services.”

The agreement also states the library will bring the tax to the voters for the next three years if it does not pass this election. Complicating the matter is a state statute that holds the library’s taxable district to the city’s 1965 boundary limits, meaning some patrons who live within current city limits — and have a SPL card — will not be able to vote on the issue. La Strada said this will likely only effect residents in newer Ward 4 areas, including the Southwest Village and Katy Trail Estates neighborhoods.

“Depending on where they live, they may be getting a different ballot on Election Day,” he said. “Our Fourth Ward poll workers have all been notified and we’ll be keeping a close watch on those ballots to make sure everyone who is eligible to vote in that race has the ability to do so.”

La Strada urged voters to double-check their voter registration cards to see if they are listed within the 1965 boundary.

“With our GIS system, there shouldn’t be any gliches,” he said. “But we do ask voters to do their homework as well. If they have any questions about eligibility, they can always call my office and we’d be happy to check for them.”

Sedalia City Council

The city council will have only one contested race in April, after Larry Stevenson threw his hat into the ring as a Ward 4 candidate with just a few hours left before the filing deadline.

Ward 1 Councilwoman Jo Lynn Turley, Ward 2 Councilwoman Becca La Strada and Ward 3 Councilman Bob Cross will all run unopposed for their first, second and third terms respectively.

Stevenson said he waited until the last day to file intentionally.

“I wanted to see if anyone else would run,” he told the Democrat Tuesday. “Generally, when there are three or four candidates for one spot, the incumbent wins. Once I knew it would be just me (and Norton), I filed.”

A lifelong Seadalia resident, Stevenson has served as quartermaster for VFW Post 2591 for the past four years and is involved in the 40&8 and coordinates the flags for veterans’ graves in Crown Hill Cemetery. If elected, Stevenson said his goals include advocating for a new, expanded Senior Center and seeing the Washington Avenue bridge project to completion.

“I have friends in Warrensburg and they brag all the time about their center. Sedalia deserves one too,” he said. “As for ongoing things, I think the deterioration of downtown is just a disgrace. We’ve got buildings that are falling down and are an eyesore. I’m 100 percent in favor of the (Citizens for a Clean Sedalia) committee’s work and think the city should back their efforts.”

Stevenson noted his opponent, Ken Norton, has been on the council for 28 years and said it was time for “new ideas.”

“I think (Norton) has been on council long enough,” he said. “He’s made a home there and I think it’s time for some new faces. We have to keep the city moving forward, if we don’t, it’ll die.”

Because of state statutes, even if no one ran against Norton, the city would have still had to hold, and pay for, an election. City council terms are for two years.

Pettis County Ambulance District Board of Directors

Voters in Pettis County Ambulance District’s Sub-District 4, which includes east Sedalia, will choose between incumbent Les Harrell and challenger Bill Griffith. The two previously squared off in the June election.

Earlier this month Harrell told the Democrat he wanted to “continue to help the board get the ambulance district going. We’re seeing a lot of progress and moving forward.”

Griffith said he wanted to focus on getting a quality ambulance service in Pettis County.

Sub-District 1 incumbent Dave Clippert is also up for reelection, but because the race isn’t contested he will not appear on the ballot.

Board of Director terms are for three years.

Sedalia School District 200

Stan Bowlin officially withdrew from the Sedalia School District 200 Board of Education race Tuesday morning, so with two candidates — incumbent David Wolf and newcomer Diana Nichols — for the two available seats, the district “will not have to participate in the election,” said Superintendent Harriet Wolfe.

Wolfe said the district has until Tuesday to submit documents to La Strada showing that Bowlin bowing out leaves an equal number of candidates and open seats. Not having contested races will save the district more than $10,000 in election-related costs, she said.

Board of Education terms are for three years.

For more information about the election or boundary lines, call the Pettis County Clerk at 826-5000 ext. 918.

— Democrat Editor Bob Satnan also contributed to this report.