Aberdeen is apparently satisfied with the local status quo. Every incumbent on our local ballots won last night, and 90% of my neighbors are not concerned enough about the state of affairs to bother voting.
In results that should disconcert my political opponents, my voting neighbors agreed with four out of five of my endorsements. I said reëlect Mark Remily and Mike Olson to the city council, and voters did so. I said reëlect Brian Sharp to the school board and send Aaron Schultz to join him, and voters did so. The only DFP endorsee not to win last night was Thomas Black, who lost in my northwest district to Dave Lunzman, whose background in the Jackley DCI could be seen as another sign of local satisfaction with the status quo.
Voters also reëlected Clint Rux to a southeast district council seat and Kevin Burckhard to a school board seat. I withheld endorsements from those candidates based on their unwillingness to respond to interview requests. But we can at least take comfort in the southeast district’s rejection of Rux’s opponent Kaleb Weis, who came out of the gate waving his religion as his primary qualification for office, slouched grimly through the one public candidate forum on May 6, sent out a card depicting himself and tag-team partner Tim Prater in front of the county courthouse instead of City Hall, then tolerated un-American anti-refugee bigotry without any challenge on his campaign Facebook page. We should be relieved to see Weis’s Trumpy slogans and xenophobia kept out of our practical city council chamber.
But watch out for Lunzman: he used the code words “assimilate” and “extreme vetting” in his campaign. (Lunzman said we should use “extreme vetting” on immigrants coming to our community just as we vet people who come into our homes. First, as has been said multiple times by multiple news outlets, the United States already has one of the strictest refugee entry processes in the world… or at least did when we had a competent President. Second, does Lunzman really take fingerprints and conduct criminal background checks on people who enter his home?)
The greater disappointment than Lunzman’s election is the failure of most voters to participate. With five candidates for school board and ten candidates hotly competing for city council, turnout remained typically abysmal:
- School board Burckhard/Schultz/Sharp/Wise/Santema: 1,867 voters out of 19,597 eligible = 9.5% turnout.
- City council northwest Lunzman v. Black v. Jones: 437/3,987 = 11.0%.
- City council northeast Remily v. Washnok v. Bunke: 548/4,631 = 11.8%.
- City council southeast Olson v. Prater: 525/4,230 = 12.4%.
- City council southeast Rux v. Weis: 539/4,230 = 12.7%.
Hmmm… perhaps longer names depress turnout?
At least we’re not as apathetic as Sioux Falls. Their school board election, complete with the chance to vote for another Mickelson, only drew 4% turnout… but that was with no coinciding municipal election to draw voters. 11.3% of Pennington County voters turned out for their various local elections.
Even when things are going fine, as Aberdeen voters signaled yesterday, we should still see better than one in ten citizens voting. We dodged the bullet this time, but the majority sitting home makes it possible for a tiny disgruntled minority driven by a destructive agenda to take over the government.
Whenever I give students tests, I tell them not to cheat, “because the person sitting next to you is dumber than you are.” Don’t let the dummies next door make your decisions for you. Get out and vote, every time.