The division between those who like where the city is heading and those who don’t seems to have balanced out if Tuesday’s election results are any indication.
This is especially true in the race for mayor where incumbent Rod Woodbury held a slight edge over challenger Councilman Kiernan McManus with 1,465 to 1,409 votes.
The two will face off for the city’s top leadership role in the June general election. What will be crucial for either is what will happen to the 631 votes that were cast for Councilman Warren Harhay.
Though not as obvious, the City Council election faces a similar situation, with incumbents Peggy Leavitt and Rich Shuman advancing to the general election along with James Howard Adams and Claudia Bridges.
In both races, the challengers have been endorsed by a special interest group in the community that espouses historical preservation and limited growth.
Somewhat ironically, the incumbents support those same positions. It’s the perceived approach and some unsubstantiated rumors that seems to have caused division in the community.
Despite this, throughout the campaign the candidates stayed focused on what they felt was most important to them: their vision for Boulder City. For the most part they avoided the mudslinging that has become so common in today’s political climate.
Those who advanced to the general election and those who fought the good fight are to be congratulated for their devotion to the city and its operation. We applaud Judy Dechaine, Trenton Motley and Tom Tyler for having the courage to step forward, put themselves up for public scrutiny and take a chance to make our community a better place to live.
(Candidate Brent Foutz’s motivation and lack of participation in the campaign is baffling.)
If only we could get some of the candidates’ enthusiasm to filter down to the voters.
While the 33.7% of registered voters who turned out at the polls to cast their vote for Boulder City officials soars above the paltry 8.8% cast overall in Clark County, that means 66.3% of local voters stayed home. That equates to 6,915 people who could participate and have their voices heard.
Hopefully, a narrower field of candidates will entice more voters to get to know those who are running, what they stand for and cast their ballots. If the 2017 council race is any indication, then another 10 percent should be expected.
Two years ago, when Councilmen Harhay and McManus won their seats, 33.4% of the city’s registered voters cast their ballots in the primary and 42.4% showed up for the general election.
And we are making progress in getting residents to care about the community on both sides of the ballot. In 2015, when Woodbury was elected mayor, he was the only candidate to file for the position and was declared the winner without a single vote cast.
That same election only saw 26.2% of voters turn out to choose two council members from a slate of three.
Before that, in 2013, Councilmen Duncan McCoy and Cam Walker were declared elected when no one ran against them.
Perhaps English critic William Hazlitt was correct when he said, “When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.”
Whether perceived or actual, the division in the community is attracting interest to the political arena, and that makes Boulder City the true winner.
Hali Bernstein Saylor is editor of the Boulder City Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 702-586-9523. Follow @HalisComment on Twitter.