Voting patterns show views on election

Wednesday, April 9, 2008 | 10:34 p.m. CDT; updated 3:47 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

This article has been corrected to reflect that the City Council and Columbia School Board each lost one incumbent in Tuesday's municipal election.

COLUMBIA — Within a 15-hour period Tuesday, one incumbent each left their seats on the Columbia School Board and City Council, the city and county sewer districts received a hefty boost and Columbia Public Schools saw a $10.3 million property tax levy slip away.

Breaking down election results into precincts provides a more precise look at how voters felt about the candidates and issues on the ballot.

  • Eight of 71 precincts voted in favor of the property tax levy for the school district. The pockets of support were primarily in polling precincts within MU or in downtown Columbia.
  • Paul Sturtz won broad support in the First Ward, defeating incumbent Almeta Crayton in every precinct except the one surrounding North Garth Avenue.
  • Tom Rose was the top vote-getter in 50 precincts, Rosie Tippin in 12 precincts and Ines Segert in eight. All three won seats on the school board.
  • All 84 precincts in Boone County approved the regional sewer district bonds, and all 50 precincts in Columbia supported the city sewer bonds.

Columbia’s $10.3 million property tax levy, which was strongly rejected throughout the county, did have favorable support in the city core.

Support came from residents who voted at the National Guard Armory, Columbia Public Library, First Church of Christ Scientist, Paquin Towers, Memorial Union, Campus Lutheran Church, the Columbia Fire Station along Ashland Road and Oak Towers.

Of the eight precincts that approved the tax levy, half supported it by a wide margin, while the rest were evenly divided.

Evelyn Tanner, who lives in one of the precincts that supported the issue, said there was broad support for the levy in her neighborhood.

“No parent wants to see increased class sizes and teachers losing their jobs,” said Tanner, a PTA member at Grant Elementary School. “I think most people with children should have voted for it.”

Henry Warren, who lives on the western edge of Columbia and is neighborhood association president of King’s Meadow, voted against the tax increase, citing the lack of community input for a new high school location, as well as his inability to reconcile why Columbia’s economy is doing well while the schools are falling behind.

“I guess on a personal level, I just didn’t feel the need was fully communicated,” he said.

Teresa VanDover, principal of Lee Elementary School, expressed concern about additional cuts that may be needed in the wake of the levy’s defeat.

“I feel like our school district will put together another plan, and they will be very responsive to the concerns that have been expressed by the public,” VanDover said. “I believe the next time a tax levy comes forward, it will pass because I know people will understand the situation as they see the effects that are happening building by building.”

Segert, one of the three newly elected school board members, said favorable votes in the heart of Columbia could be tied to the condition of the schools.

“It’s possible that downtown, the schools are in much poorer condition,” she said. “They may have felt a greater need.”

Segert and Tippin were elected to the board Tuesday along with Tom Rose, who was appointed in June 2007.

Rose was the top vote-getter in more than two-thirds of the precincts voting for members of the board.

Tippin received the highest number of votes in 12 precincts — 17 percent of the total number — while Segert received the highest number in eight precincts — 11 percent of the total.

The overwhelming passage of the sewer bond issues seemed to cause little surprise.

Boone County Regional Sewer Board member David Shorr said voters responded favorably to the new development project because the city and the county did a good job presenting the sewer issue to the public.

He said that the community has been asking local agencies and governments to coordinate large-scale construction projects more efficiently.

“In the past three bond issues, the city and district have coordinated, and it demonstrates that we have received (the public’s) message,” Shorr said. “I think that has been very helpful for the city and district.”

Missourian reporters Erin Ash, Kate Genellie and Jane Kellogg contributed to this report.

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