Filing opened Tuesday for the April municipal and school board elections, but experts say fewer people will pay attention to their local races than they do to statewide and national contests.
The effect can be seen in lower voter turnout.
Local elections historically bring out a lower number of voters, Boone County Clerk Taylor Burks said.
“Last year, we saw turnout ranging from 12 percent to 15 percent,” Burks said.
During the midterm elections in November, more than four times the number of voters cast ballots in Boone County than in most April elections.
“We saw a little over 70 percent turnout then,” Burks said.
However, University of Missouri political science professor Andrea Benjamin said local elections affect people’s day-to-day lives much more than national ones.
“What the city council does regarding trash pick up, regarding sidewalks, regarding sewers, if your sewer doesn’t work you’re going to feel it immediately,” Benjamin said.
Benjamin attributes big national vote turnouts to publicity and money.
“A presidential election will get much more coverage,” she said. “Obviously, it’s a national election and they spend a lot more money than what we do on our local elections.”
But Boone County resident Ownetta Murray said she’ll be voting next April.
“I always vote. I love being an American,” Murray said.
Burks said next year’s mayoral election in Columbia could bring out more voters, but it really all depends on the candidates and how close the races are.
“Who’s going to be running for school board, hospital board, all of those come into play for April elections, so we don’t know all of the candidates yet,” Burks said.
Several candidates filed for the April election early in the day Tuesday. The filing period for Columbia’s races began in October and ends Jan. 8. Filing in other races ends Jan. 15.
Candidates in key local races include:
Jefferson City Board of Education
Ardella Streaty Wilhoit Brian C. Jones
Columbia Board of Education
Lorelei Schwartz Stephanie Johnson Steve Brown
Jefferson City mayor
Brian Treece Chris Kelly
Columbia City Council Ward 3
Columbia City Council Ward 4