Fewer ballots, more candidates, and big choices for Wellington and Sumner County.
For Wellington, this is the biggest election in history when it comes to the amount of candidates. The outcome of the April 2 vote will have an enormous impact on the future of the city.
With no districts and wards for the City Council, all 15 candidates are running at-large. The new at-large election should prove to be a smoother process for voters, and those counting votes.
"Two years ago for Wellington City/School elections, there were four different ballots, plus rural," said Sumner County Election Clerk, Debra Norris. "Now we have one Wellington city, one Wellington Rural." In 2012, for the City only election, there were four different ballots, as there were four different wards.
The USD 353 ballot is still broken up into districts, but beings that April 2 is a general election, not a primary, everyone has the chance to vote for every candidate.
Voters will also find a stream-lined, check-in process on election day this year.
"In the past when you checked in, you'd go to your ward's table." Norris explained. "Now there will be a single check-in table. Anyone can go to that check-in table, any one can vote at any of the polls." Hopefully those polls will be busy, and full, as there are 4,931 registered voters in the city limits of Wellington, and 240 voters in rural Wellington.
Two years ago, for the April 5, 2011 election, Ward 4 in Wellington had the highest voter turnout with 23.69 percent. They were followed by Ward 2 with 19.16 percent, Ward 1 with 17.45, and Ward 3 with 12.03 percent. Rural Wellington garnered 12.13 percent of registered voters in that election.
Last year for the city-only election, there was a 22.22 percent total voter turnout.
Of course, there will be elections going on across Sumner County on April 2. A special question added the ballot earlier this month is a question voters said "yes" to in 2010.
The one-half percent retailer sales tax that benefits various health service organizations around the County will sunset a year from now, unless the voters decide to extend the tax for four more years.
"A sales tax is the fairest tax because it applies to every consumer; both locally and those traveling through Sumner County. The amount of revenue generated at the Kansas Star Casino has been helpful, as well", said Sumner County Commissioner Jim Newell via press release.
The same press release from the Board of Sumner County Commissioners, says the sales-tax would benefit The Sumner County Health Department, Sumner Mental Health Center and Futures Unlimited.
For Wellington's USD 353 school system, there are six candidates, one of which is running unopposed:
District 1, Position 4 (currently held by: Maria Cornejo)
District 2, Position 5 (currently held by: Dixie Blankenship)
District 3, Position 6 (currently held by: Dena Martens)
Wellington's City Council could look a lot different, or it could look very similar; it will for sure look smaller. With the move to at-large, the council is shrinking from eight seats, to six seats.
Voters will have a chance to pick up to six candidates.
Candidates (in order of filing):
Who will lead Wellington into the future? That's up to the voters to decide. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, April 2 at the Raymond Frye Complex in Wellington.
"They have to bring a government issued, photo I.D.," Norris said. "Drivers license is probably used most of all." With the simplified, at-large process, hopes are that voters will not shy away from the polls.
"To eliminate four ballots, and make it into one ballot is huge in my world," Norris said.
April 2 is a day that will be remembered in Wellington, good or bad, for years to come.
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