Friday, November 10, 2006

Voter turnout only surprise in Bellevue

City counts many voters despite all races being unopposed

Express Staff Writer

In Bellevue on Tuesday, the big story coming out of this year's election wasn't as much about who won—everyone won in the city's three uncontested races—but, rather, the high voter turnout.

Out of a total of 1,011 registered Bellevue voters, 327 voters showed up at the polls Nov. 7. This translates into a relatively high voter turnout of 32 percent.

On Thursday, Bellevue City Clerk Dee Barton expressed amazement at the level of turnout by city voters. Still, Barton's surprise was tinged with some disappointment.

"Thirty-two percent is a really good result, unfortunately," she said. "It's (the right to vote), something we take for granted."

During the most recent previous election on April 3, only 67 voters showed up at the polls to vote for three open City Council seats. That translates into a voter turnout of only 6.57 percent.

Like this week's elections, the candidates for the three open seats in April all ran unopposed.

Broken down by individual candidate on Tuesday, Mayor Jon Anderson received 303 votes; Councilwoman Tammy Eaton received 266 votes; Councilman Chris Koch received 270 votes; and Councilman Shaun Mahoney received 288 votes.

With the existing leadership in Bellevue entirely unchanged, the city will now head into a future full of fast-paced growth and the demands inherent to that.

Issues that are assured of being at or near the top of Bellevue officials' minds will include much-needed city infrastructure improvements, ensuring the continued vibrancy of the downtown commercial core and deciding what direction to take on three pending annexation proposals.

The annexations—one located northeast of town in Slaughterhouse Canyon and the other two south of town adjacent to the Gannett Picabo Road—would nearly double the existing size of Bellevue.

Perhaps more than anything else, the outcome of the proposed annexations will affect the look of Bellevue for many years to come and will be a lasting legacy of the elected officials currently responsible for the direction the city is taking.

Tuesday's elections marked the first time the city has held its municipal elections in November.

Last spring, a bill to bring the date Bellevue holds its city elections into conformity with the rest of the state was approved by the Idaho Legislature and signed into law by former Idaho Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

With the bill's passage, all future Bellevue elections will be held in November.

Candidates voted into office during Tuesday's elections will be sworn in during Bellevue's first City Council meeting in 2007, on Jan. 11.

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