WS voters show desire for change in leadership

A historic number of ballots were cast as local council members running for office were on the same ballot as the presidential candidates of the United States of America. Over fifty percent of the 7,833 registered voters took part in this years election. Voters in White Settlement elected one new council member while a runoff will be scheduled for the other city council seat. (See more info below)

By A.C. Hall

The results are in and one incumbent on the White Settlement City Council has been unseated while another is heading to a run-off election.  In Place 5, two term incumbent Garry Wilson was defeated by challenger Steve Ott.  The final tally was 1,409 for Ott and 1,195 for Wilson.  That breaks down to 54.11% for Ott and 45.89% for Wilson.  

Ott was on hand at the White Settlement Public Library polling place on Tuesday afternoon and expressed his positive feelings on the way the election was unfolding.

“I’m feeling confident,” Ott said.  “I think people are ready for a change.”

Those words turned out to be true, and after six years on the council Wilson has been defeated by Ott.

In Place 4, incumbent Paul Moore was facing three challengers and found himself falling behind one of them.  Danny Anderson pulled ahead by a wide margin, but couldn’t get to the needed 51% to win the race outright.  The final tally was 1,159 for Anderson and 809 for Moore.  That breaks down to 43.70% for Anderson and 30.51% for Moore.

Two other men were also vying for this seat, and those men were Daniel Munoz Sr and George Klecan.  Munoz received 486 votes while Klecan received 198.

Moore has only held the seat on the council for one year as he took over an unexpired term.  Speaking Tuesday afternoon at the library as he was campaigning, Moore mentioned the possibility of a runoff election.

“I’m hoping to be able to avoid a runoff,” Moore said.

One reason he gave for wanting this is because the cost to the city, which could be around ten thousand dollars.  Also, it will be held sometime in December, pushing the election season right into the heart of the holidays.

Despite Moore’s hopes, a runoff between he and Anderson will be taking place as the two will face off one more time for the Place 4 council seat.

Voters overwhelmingly approved all five of the proposed charter amendments, passing them by around a 3 to 1 margin.  These propositions made some minor changes that brought the charter into compliance with State law in a few cases where it was noncompliant.  It also made a change, requiring just one city council meeting a month instead of two, and adding in a requirement of one year prior White Settlement City Council experience before a council member can be named as Mayor Pro Tem.

A steady flow of voters came into the White Settlement Public Library on Tuesday and candidates and their supporters were on hand to make their case to these election day voters.  Current council members, ex-council members, council candidates and concerned citizens could be spotted speaking to voters throughout the day.

The presence of opposing political sides did lead to one incident which resulted in a complaint being made to the election judge inside the polling place.  White Settlement citizen Darlene Underwood was speaking to voters as she supported candidates Anderson and Ott and according to Underwood, she had issues with both Wilson and council member Mike Arnold.  She stated that they spoke rudely to her and said at one point she was yelled at from across the parking lot.

Opposing candidates and their supporters argued that Underwood and others campaigning with her were being overly aggressive by approaching voters who were still in their cars and that they were getting too close to the polling place.

The issue got both City Secretary Amy Arnold and City Marshall Jeff James out to the parking lot.  They spoke with all who were on hand electioneering and stressed the need for civility.  Cones were set up to more clearly define the boundary of how close candidates and those campaigning on their behalf could get to the polling place.  The City Marshall visited the premises throughout the day to make sure there were no further issues.

With city voting tied into the presidential voting, a historic number of ballots were cast in this election.  Early voting saw 2,536 White Settlement voters cast their ballots, with 1,692 of those people casting a vote in the local election as well as the presidential election.

Election day results were way down, coming in far below their usual numbers.  In recent elections, election day votes range from 75% of early vote numbers to equaling early vote numbers.  This year, the total number of White Settlement voters on Tuesday was 1,295, with 893 of them casting a vote in the local election.

Early voting results added to election day results and absentee ballots shows that 3,965 of the 7,833 registered White Settlement voters cast a ballot in this election, which breaks down to 50.62% of registered voters.

The number that deserves more attention is the number of those White Settlement voters who voted in the presidential election, but did not fill in the part of the ballot regarding White Settlement.

Of the 3,965 registered White Settlement voters who voted, only 2,652 filled in the local section of the ballot.  That’s 1,313 people who either accidentally skipped the local section of the ballot or chose not to fill it in, instead only voting for the federal and state races.  That means 33.86% of registered voters took part in the local election.  This is around double the amount of people who usually cast a vote in White Settlement city elections.

Framing these numbers historically, the 2,652 voters stands as the second most votes cast towards a City issue in the history of White Settlement.  The 2005 controversial vote regarding changing the name of the city is the only event in the history of White Settlement that has pulled in more voters than Tuesday’s election.  The total number of votes for the name change proposition?  2,656.  Just four more than the number of votes cast on Tuesday.