For more of my commentary on life in Richmond, Indiana check out RichmondMatters.com.
(Please note, because of the time that has passed since I wrote this article, it may no longer reflect my current views or the most accurate and complete information available on this subject.)
Some initial analysis of the Wayne County primary election results:
- Only 4,378 people voted. That's 16% of our registered voter population, 27,290, which is also woefully small. These numbers are pathetic.
- Republican mayoral candidates: of the 2,645 people who voted, almost 80% of them picked Rick Thalls over Ron Chappell and Danny Black. Possible conclusions to be drawn...Rick Thalls had the leverage of a career in the school system and all of the lives he's touched as a part of that? Danny Black and Ron Chappell needed to do a lot more campaigning? Mr. Black didn't have enough name recognition and people remembered Mr. Chappell's lack of integrity around the City's non-discrimination policy discussion? Hmmm. Quite a landslide, anyway, and some good momentum for Mr. Thalls as he faces the incumbent in the fall.
- Democratic mayoral candidates: Mayor Sally Hutton garners more than 82% of the vote over Mark Cordell. Cordell didn't have a very widely distributed image or platform, and so the incumbent advantage easily wins out. Still, with only 1,651 voting, it's not exactly an overflowing of political capital for the Mayor, and falls short of her fall opponent's apparent levels of support. She'll need to work hard between now and then to win.
- Republican candidates for city council district 2: Sharon Sheets beat Joshua Jones by 8 votes, with only a total of 84 votes. With voter participation that low for a particular seat, it's sad to see such a small margin, and you can't really fault the losing candidate. Let's just hope the winner is qualified.
- Democratic candidates for city council: way too many unopposed seats or even empty seats. Regardless of your party affiliation, you've got to appreciate the benefits of a contest when it comes to holding political leaders accountable over time. For the at-large seats, the margins were all so close that again it becomes more a matter of voter turnout and less a matter of mandate based on qualifications. Let's hope the winners can do the job.
- The voting process: mixed results. Convenience and efficiency seemed to be the general trend, but when I asked for a paper record of my vote they still could not give me one, and when I asked to inspect the software that powered the voting machines, they still could not let me in. It's a black box voting system and we have no idea who or what could be influencing the outcome...a complete failure of transparent democracy.
The stickers they give out when you're done should read "I've been told My Vote Counted!"
What do you think?