For some small communities, rounding up a field of candidates for city council elections every four years can be frustrating, if not impossible.
The ballots in Linwood, Lecompton and Baldwin for Tuesday's election will feature only one candidate each for city council. Baldwin's second incumbent had intended to file for re-election, but a glitch with the paperwork made her a write-in.
However, officials in Linwood and Lecompton say the low candidate turnout is not uncommon.
"It's just easier not to get involved," said Linwood Mayor Arlene Pritchard. "A lot of your younger people are so bogged down if they have kids in school. And if they didn't grow up with this kind of thing, like if their parents weren't involved, then it's not something they've been exposed to."
The major time commitment and minuscule financial compensation also might keep people from serving on the city council, she said. Linwood council members currently earn $1 per meeting before taxes. The mayor takes home $4 per meeting.
IN LINWOOD, only incumbent Rodney Kraus filed as a candidate, but Howard Kevin Jones, another incumbent, was persuaded to return to the council if he gets enough write-in votes.
Pritchard's name will be featured on the ballot as a mayoral candidate and she has an opponent Jim Shivers.
Shivers said he was surprised at the small field of candidates.
"For the number of people who voice their opinions, none of them come forward," he said.
His campaign has focused on opposition to a $9.9 million bond issue proposed by the Basehor-Linwood school district, studying ways to revamp the long-distance telephone service in Linwood, and addressing problems with the city's water quality.
Pritchard hopes to continue focusing on infrastructure woes, such as the water system, sewer lagoons and recurring problems with the storm sewer system. She said she's proud that she managed to keep the community's budget at the same level for the last four years.
IN LECOMPTON, Mayor Sam Smith's term is ending, and voters won't see his name on the ballot. Nor will they see the names of the two council members, Harold Williams and Carl Bahnmaier.
Ed Smith, a former city maintenance worker, will be featured on the ballot. He ran as a write-in candidate last year, and decided to try again this year. He said candidates frequently choose not to file, but hit the streets with campaign information in the days before the election.
Mayor Smith said in a small community, much of the population already has served on the council and newcomers to the community often don't feel informed enough to take the job. He isn't running for re-election and hasn't decided what he'll do if he gets enough write-in votes to keep him in office.
"IF I GET written in again, I'll decide then if I'll accept it," he said.
The mayor's story of how he earned that title seems to sum up the candidate shortage small towns face. He had just been elected to the council through a write-in vote, when the mayor and the president of the council resigned. He was named council president, and therefore took on the position of mayor when the mayor stepped down, and then appointed two new council members to fill the vacancies.
"It would be nice if more people did get involved, but it's not really a problem," he said. "It's just small-town politics."