About 70% of registered voters in Boone County voted in the general election last November, while only 20% voted in the municipal election last year, former Sixth Ward City Councilwoman Barbara Hoppe said Tuesday.
Hoppe and Northern District Boone County Commissioner Janet Thompson gave a speech at the Columbia Public Library on why they believe voting in local elections matters. The League of Women Voters of Columbia-Boone County held this event in conjunction with the library.
During the speech, Hoppe described how city government is related to people’s daily lives. Local government deals with lawmaking, fire protection, water quality, waste deposit, power and electricity, affordable housing, historical preservation and public health ordinances — all things that affect people’s lives on a regular basis.
Hoppe said when she was on the council, she and other members would discuss which streetlights they could turn off to save money.
“A lot of innovation happened at the local level,” Hoppe said. “Local government representatives are closest to you. They are living in your community. You see them in the stores, in grocery stores, at events. You have the opportunity to take them to the side, to say, ‘Hey, what about this? I have an idea,’ or ‘Would you come and look at this?’ And they are available to do that.”
Thompson, who is seeking election to a third term as county commissioner, said she has been reached out to this way. She shared how people would come up to her and talk about problems with the roads while she handed out bulletins in church.
She then explained what roles county government plays, such as clerks for elections and censuses, public administrators, prosecutors, sheriffs and commissioners.
Thompson also talked about how voters played a role in the Boone County Children’s Services Fund to emphasize how important voting is. The fund, established in 2012, had not been on the ballot until advocates petitioned for it. The citizen initiative, Putting Kids First, gathered people’s signatures and made the fund a reality.
“They were beating the drum all through Boone County,” she said.
During a Q&A with the audience, Thompson talked about how every vote matters.
“Your vote counts as much as a millionaire’s vote,” Thompson said.
Annabelle Simmons, who attended the event, said she votes in every election.
“Do you want my opinion? Do you like my opinion?” she said. “Because if you do, my vote carries a lot of weight. If you don’t like my opinion, then get out and vote.”