Top and bottom 10
Here's a look at the 10 Lawrence precincts that had the highest voter turnout percentage in Tuesday's elections:
1. Brandon Woods Retirement Community, 1501 Inverness Drive, 39.6 percent 2. Langston Hughes School, 1101 George Williams Way, 38.9 3. Central Junior High School, 1400 Mass., 38.9 4. Pioneer Ridge Retirement Community, 4851 Harvard Road, 38.4 5. American Legion, 3408 W. Sixth St., 35.4 6. Holcom Park Recreation Center, 2700 W. 27th St., 33.4 7. Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 2211 Inverness Drive, 31.2 8. Drury Place, 1510 St. Andrews Drive, 30.3 9. Mustard Seed Christian Fellowship, 700 Wakarusa Drive, 30.3 10. Southside Church of Christ, 1105 W. 25th St., 28.9
Here are the 10 precincts with the lowest voter turnout percentages:
1. Burge Union, 2104 W. 15th St., 0.62 percent 2. Central United Methodist Church, 1501 Mass., 4.8 3. Plymouth Congregational Church, 925 Vt., 6.1 4. South Park Recreation Center, 1141 Mass., 7.0 5. Lawrence Jewish Community Center, 917 Highland Drive, 8.4 6. Schwegler School, 2201 Ousdahl Road, 9.4 7. USD 497 Administration Center, 110 McDonald Drive, 10.2 8. Kennedy School, 1605 Davis Road, 11.6 9. United Way Building, 2518 Ridge Court, 11.7 10. Haskell Coffin Sports Complex, 155 Indian Ave., 12.2
The west was best.
At least in terms of voter turnout, that's the clear conclusion from Tuesday's election results.
An analysis of voter turnout numbers found that of the 10 precincts that posted the highest percentage, eight were west of Iowa Street. All 10 of the precincts with the lowest voter turnout were east of Iowa Street.
Candidates are convinced the split made a difference in the outcome, which saw political newcomers Mike Dever and Rob Chestnut - the top two fundraisers in the race - take the top two spots in the election.
"I think what this election represented was not just a message about money and the candidates who raised the most of it, but it also was about voter discipline," said City Commissioner David Schauner, who lost his seat by finishing fourth. "Their base went out to the polls and voted."
But figuring out why the west side of the community seemed more motivated than the east side was a head-scratcher for many.
Was it economics?
Commissioner Boog Highberger, who held on to his seat by finishing third, said the lack of a local hot-button issue may have led to lower turnout on the east side of town. As for why west-side residents turned out in greater numbers, he guessed that there may have been some new economic issues that caught their attention.
"We've been in a housing slowdown for a while now," Highberger said. "That's a national issue that really isn't related to the City Commission. But that might have motivated a different group of voters."
Others said it was just a result of Dever and Chestnut starting their campaigns earlier than anyone else, and spending a lot of time targeting west Lawrence residents. Both candidates started campaigning before the beginning of the year.
"They definitely started early," said Carey Maynard-Moody, who finished sixth in the election. "It was like when the starter's pistol went off, they were already halfway down the first straightaway."
Some people, though, said the west-side turnout was driven by the fact that four of the six candidates live west of Iowa Street. Highberger and Maynard-Moody are the two candidates who don't.
Lois Liebert, a poll worker at Kennedy School, 1605 Davis Road, said she thought west Lawrence residents were getting out to vote either for or against their neighbors that they know personally.
"Name recognition means a lot in these city elections," Liebert said. "A lot of people don't pay a lot of attention to how the candidates stand on the issues."
PAC not active
Some East Lawrence leaders also conceded that perhaps they did not do enough to motivate voters in their neighborhoods.
"Apparently we didn't do a good enough job of helping people realize what was at stake in the election," said Phil Collison, president of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association. "I talked to a few people on the phone about the importance of getting out and voting. Looking back, I probably didn't knock on enough doors."
This was the first election since 2001 that the Progressive Lawrence Campaign - a political action committee that previously worked to elect Schauner and Highberger - had not been active. Collison, though, stopped short of citing that as a reason for the low turnout.
He said he thought there were still several groups of volunteers who organized to worked on behalf of candidates.
"Honestly, I don't know what happened," Collison said. "I'm surprised because we have a history of being activists on this side of town."
Chestnut and Dever both said the surge in support from the west side was the result of those residents - many of whom commute - agreeing with their message about the need for more Lawrence-based jobs.
But both candidates also tried to downplay the notion that their victories were fueled solely by west-side support.
"I hope people believe I appeal to more than just the west side," Dever said. "I think I do. I'm definitely going to represent the city as a whole."
Chestnut also said he hoped the idea of a divided city wouldn't linger.
"I think it is really important that we stop thinking about east versus west and really look at the entire community," Chestnut said.