Congratulations to all the winners Tuesday in local school board and municipal races.
We have come to admire all the local officeholders for the amount of work they put in trying to improve their communities and school districts, and for the grief that they often get.
Serving in these elected positions can be a thankless job much of the time, so let us take a minute to say thanks to all those willing to serve.
Tuesday’s turnout sent a few unambiguous signals. Voters in Neosho, for the third time, and in Carl Junction, for the fourth time, rejected modest use tax proposals. In both cases, the margin of defeat was wider than it had been previously. This can’t be seen as just anti-tax sentiment rearing its head, as nearly 75% of voters in Carl Junction on Tuesday passed a $7 million bond issue to improve buildings in the school district. Voters in Neosho approved a levy increase for the school district last June.
Joplin leaders have talked about taking another swing at a use tax, and last December a citizens’ committee called for putting it back on the ballot. The use tax would be collected on sales by online retailers who do not have a presence in Missouri. It would be in the same amount as the local sales tax, which now is 3.125%.
Joplin voters, too, have rejected a use tax before, as recently as 2018.
We have favored local use taxes, but Tuesday’s vote makes it imperative that city leaders understand why this keeps hitting the wall, and put together a campaign that addresses that resistance.
One more thing: Shame on us.
Voter turnout in Jasper County was 5.96% — one of the lowest turnouts in recent history.
Not one of the 70 people registered to vote in La Russell turned out — not even the candidates whose names were on the ballot, which means no one was elected. And because no one voted, a measure to annex the La Russell Fire District into the Avilla Fire Protection District failed for lack of a vote.
One vote would have made the difference.
“Vox populi, vox dei,” the Latin saying goes: The voice of the people is the voice of God.
But not Tuesday.