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Archive for Thursday, April 5, 2007

School board candidate area’s top vote-getter

April 5, 2007

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Maybe Bob Dole's political career rubbed off on Scott Morgan.

Morgan was the top vote-winner in Tuesday's election for the Lawrence school board with 7,865 votes. That total, however, also made him the top vote-winner of any candidate in Douglas County this election season. He received about 500 votes more than City Commission front-runner Mike Dever, although it is worth noting that the school district has more voters than the city does.

Morgan - the former general counsel for Sen. Bob Dole's presidential campaign - on Wednesday said he wasn't sure what he had done to be so successful. He joked maybe it was his experience on a presidential campaign that pushed him over the top.

"Yeah, the campaigns were very similar in scope," he said with a laugh.

Morgan, though, said he likely was the top spender in the campaign. He said his campaign spent about $6,000 during the election. School board candidates haven't been required to file campaign finance reports yet.

Voters gave Morgan a comfortable victory at the polls. He outdistanced second-place finisher Rich Minder by 2,197 votes. Morgan said he thought the biggest factor in the race was name recognition. He previously had served on the board but was defeated in 2003 in a backlash from voters angry at the board's decision to close some elementary schools.

"I only lost by 66 votes back then," Morgan said. "I know there are still people who disagree with what the board did, but the people who voted against me back then still respected me, I believe.

"Given that school closings weren't an issue this time, they found a way to vote for me. I was a known quantity, I guess."

What's in a percentage?

There's more than one way to look at vote totals generated Tuesday night by the Douglas County Clerk's office.

When the clerk's office tallies all the results, officials present the number of votes a candidate receives and also a percentage of votes received. But the percentage of votes received doesn't really tell the whole story about what percentage of the populous voted for a candidate.

That's because voters could cast ballots for up to three City Commission candidates.

So, for example, Mike Dever received 7,349 votes, which was 20.6 percent of the 35,604 votes cast.

But if people want to know what percentage of voters actually voted for Dever, that would be 58 percent of the 12,659 people who voted within the city limits.

The percentage totals for other City Commission candidates were: Rob Chestnut, 53 percent; Commissioner Boog Highberger, 48 percent; Commissioner David Schauner, 43 percent; James Bush, 39 percent; and Carey Maynard-Moody, 37 percent.

Confusing drainage issue

Some area residents were confused about who can vote in elections for drainage districts, Douglas County Clerk Jamie Shew said.

Questions arose at the Woodlawn School precinct in North Lawrence, Shew said. The confusion comes from the fact that people don't have to be registered to vote to actually vote in the drainage district elections.

Instead, they have to own property - real or personal property - only in the drainage district. That means workers in the county clerk's office had to check the tax rolls to determine if a voter is eligible.

One other twist to the process is that only the person whose name is on the deed is eligible to vote.

For example, if a husband and wife live in the district but the deed to the home is only in the wife's name, only she would be eligible to vote in the drainage district election, Shew said.

"It is a confusing issue," Shew said.

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