We asked the 11 candidates running for Joplin City Council the following question about Gov. Mike Parson's executive order to push elections back to June 2: "How do you feel about this decision, and how does it affect your campaign?"
Here are the answers we received back:
Christina Williams: "The decision to postpone the election is definitely the right thing to do in order to protect the health of our citizens. It is also important to have good voter turnout and an accurate representation of our citizen's choices. An election during this time of uncertainty could have deterred many frequent voters from the polls and could have changed the outcomes drastically. Even if we had rallied to promote absentee voting, there simply wasn't enough time to get requests turned in and ballots mailed.
"I feel for our new city manager coming into this leadership role at such a chaotic time. I feel for the council members whose terms would have ended, but now they must carry the torch a bit longer. I am encouraged by the united steps taken by the area school districts and by groups coming together through social media to help those in need. If a city can succeed through times like these, it's certainly Joplin — we have proven that and will do so again.
"My personal campaign for city council will not really be affected. Only minimal print items will be out of date, people can hold onto their yard signs for two more months, and while I had hoped for a simple and quick campaign for the sake of my family, we'll have to hold on a bit longer. I'm incredibly grateful to the dozens of amazing people that have contributed to my committee and I intend to continue with campaign plans and now rescheduled advertising. I'm also grateful for the extra time to be with my family and support my community in any way I can."
Josh Bard: "I am definitely OK with this decision. With the majority of poll volunteers being older and poll places being churches. I feel that this is the best possible scenario not only for them, but for voter turnout. I know that the county clerks office had been working on this postponement for over a week with the workers and voters in mind.
"I don't feel that it will bother my campaign in any way. Of course, I was looking forward to the election in April, but I do feel that this is the best possible action."
Shawna Ackerson: "I am disappointed that current concerns regarding public health will force citizens to wait a couple months to exercise one of our most basic rights. That said, I respect the governor's decision. The health and safety of both our voters and those working our polling stations should be tantamount to that of our own immediate family. I believe this executive order to be in everyone's best interest. Frankly, my campaign is a secondary thought as we take this unusual step to prevent unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. I can wait."
Anthony Monteleone: "The strength of our nation comes from our frequent and fair elections. Every two years, we all get to collectively ask, 'Do we like the direction our community is heading?' and 'Who should we select to lead us where we want to go?' We have held elections during times of war, while under threat of terrorist attack, and in the aftermath of natural disaster. Now we face an unseen enemy that can use the very act of standing in line to vote as a weapon to destroy us. For that reason, delaying the election is the right thing to do.
"However, it is disappointing to see elections postponed, especially in light of the fact three states have adopted a 'ballot by mail' system that is immune to this sort of problem. Our county clerks should prepare to adopt this solution and the state of Missouri should take steps to provide temporary funding for it in the unlikely event our governor is forced to call a further postponement. Democracy is a muscle that must be exercised frequently to be kept strong."
Jim Scott: "Personally, I'm not excited about it, but I understand the decision. Based on what I have learned, it is more prudent to be cautious and be wrong, than throw caution to the wind and have to deal with the worst-case scenario. Only looking back will we be able to determine if this was an effective decision by the governor. "
Chuck Copple: "I support the governor’s decision. Off-year voter turnout is low anyways. And I feel the virus precautions would have just made turnout even lower. This delay will give the community a chance to breathe and hit the reset button once the concerns are lowered. I had been expecting this delay so I had already been putting some of my advertising on hold and preparing for the delay."
Phil Stinnett: "Does not surprise me. This decision is being made in the interest of public safety and I believe it is the right decision. It will not affect my campaign as I had not purchased my final advertising spots."