Archive for Thursday, November 15, 2007

Bond issue likely had better support than final margin

November 15, 2007

We've heard the past week talk the of the good turnout for the Eudora USD 491 bond referendum. Compared to voter participation in spring/city elections or most primaries, which routinely tops out somewhere between 20 and 30 percent, it was a good turnout.

But, in truth, the 34 percent voter turnout Nov. 6 was bad, and that makes the bond's passage all the more remarkable. While voter participation was good enough for the district, it has been our experience that a turnout of considerably less than 50 percent usually spells bad news for school bonds. Had the district been able to wait another year to put the bond referendum on a ballot with a presidential election, we suspect it would have earned a truly impressive majority.

That suggests there was even a larger vein of support in the community for the bond. But if those supporters won't make an effort to vote, they're not of much use to the district.

Although we still question the wisdom of the city council's decision to hastily put a question on the ballot with a bond issue that took the school board three years to craft, we will admit the charter question did no harm. It can be assumed that measure, too, would have passed with a larger margin had there been a larger turnout.

The mayor put a good deal of personal and political capital on the line by taking the issue to the voters. The reaffirmation from voters should strengthen his position with the council -- in a sense, providing him with the mandate he was denied when he ran unopposed for the position.

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