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Some candidates show spotty attendance at polls

By The Mercury

The candidates in next Tuesday’s city/school elections are seeking your vote. But several have spotty records when it’s time for them to go to the polls.

Of the 11 candidates whose names will appear on next week’s ballot, only two can claim to have exercised their franchise in at least 10 consecutive local elections. A couple more might have been able to do so, but they are newer residents and have not lived here for 10 elections.

To gauge the level of voter activity among the candidates, The Mercury reviewed their participation records in the 10 most recent opportunities those candidates had to vote.

Those 10 include the 2008, 2010 and 2012 general elections; the 2008, 2010 and 2012 primary elections; the 2007, 2009 and 2011 city and school board elections; and the 2007 bond election for city-wide recreational projects.

Of the seven City Commission candidates, only Bob Strawn and Karen McCulloh voted in all 10. John Ball voted in every Manhattan election since moving here in the fall of 2008.

Rich Jankovich didn’t vote in the 2008, 2010 and 2012 primary elections. He said he wasn’t aware of missing all of the primary elections, but he doesn’t keep track of whether he voted.

Jankovich is more knowledgeable about why he didn’t vote in the 2007 city/school election. He said he was called to a meeting in Kansas City that day, leaving before the polls opened and not returning until after the polls closed.

“Unfortunately from time to time I am called out-of-town for meetings and that does not always allow for scheduling absentee ballots,” he said. “I do try to do the early voting now to therefore not miss on the actual election day.”

Usha Reddi missed the 2007 bond election and the 2009 city/school election.

Reddi said she wasn’t aware of what was on the ballot in 2007; it was a failed effort to build an indoor rec and aquatic center, a soccer complex, a new Northview Pool and a Sunset Zoo education center. She said she also wasn’t sure of the circumstances for not voting in the 2009 city/school election but it was not because of lack of interest.

“I am a strong believer in participating in local government and have voted a majority of the time,” Reddi said.

Debbie Nuss didn’t vote in the 2008 primary. Nuss, who is a registered Democrat, said she didn’t vote because the Democrats didn’t have any contested races.

Daniel Hogan didn’t register to vote in Riley County until August 2012. Hogan, who was in the military, said he was registered to vote in Madison County, Ala., prior to that.

“I have voted in every presidential election since I became eligible to vote,” he said.

Most of the school board candidates have voted at a more frequent rate.

Mitch Beims has only been eligible for the 2012 primary and general election since moving to Manhattan. He voted in both of those, and said he also voted in all of the most recent elections when he previously lived in Jackson County.

Marcia Rozell, whose home is outside of the city limits, was thus ineligible to vote in the 2007 bond issue. She missed the 2008 primary election.

Rozell said she couldn’t recall a specific reason for not voting in that election, but said her mother died that September. “I did spend much of that year in St. Louis,” she said.

Pat Hudgins missed the 2008 primary election. She said she had to depart for the Kansas City airport before the polls opened and didn’t return until after they were closed.

Aaron Estabrook voted in only three of the past 10 elections: the 2008 and 2012 general elections, and the 2012 primary.

That could be partially attributed to Estabrook being a former soldier whose experience includes duty in combat zones, which could make voting a challenge. Soldiers stationed overseas can vote in local elections if they request ballots.

Estabrook offered this explanation when asked he same question as a legislative candidate in November:

“2011 city/school board and 2010 general — I was stationed at Joint Base Lewis McChord in the state of Washington and although I chose to pay taxes in Kansas and reserve my right to vote in Kansas, I did not vote in 2010 due to re-deployment from Afghanistan. I did not believe I should vote on specific city or school board elections.”

“2010 primary — I had been back from Afghanistan less than a week and spent primary night at the hospital for my daughter’s birth. (I remember watching the results in the recovery room.)”

“2009 city/school board — I was stationed at a combat outpost in Kandahar, Afghanistan in a hostile fire zone that was not conducive to voting.”

“2008 August primary – I did participate in the (April) presidential caucus.”

“2007 Quality of Life bond issue and 2007 city/school board election — Attending K-State but not registered to vote in Manhattan.”

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