Fewer than 17 percent of Perry County’s registered voters participated, but for those that did, a decision was made that is sure to have far-reaching impact well into the future. Better than 62.6 percent (1,364 voters) supported the Proposition C.O.P.S. ballot measure which will eventually lead to the construction of a joint justice center in the city of Perryville.
“Prop C.O.P.S. is going to benefit our community for a long time,” said Perry County Clerk Jared Kutz. “It’s an honor that the people would entrust them with a tax of that nature to do something that is going to have an impact on Perry County for generations to come.”
Perry County presiding commissioner Mike Sauer reacted to the approval.
“It’s absolutely wonderful,” Sauer said. “I want to thank the voters of Perry County for passing this. We have tried to put the word out as best we could about how well (much) this was needed. The overwhelming response of 1,364 votes to 814 votes makes us feel really good that our county supports our police officers and our county commission.”
Sauer was greeted by Perryville Mayor Ken Baer at the Catalyst Center Tuesday evening. Several members of the city’s Board of Aldermen were also in attendance, along with county commissioners Keith Hoehn and Jay Wengert, as well as sheriff’s department employees.
Finding an architect and securing the right place are short-term goals, according to Sauer.
“Our next step is getting an architect to come up with a final design for the building and get a location. Those have to go hand in hand.”
Along with securing a location and getting design plans finalized, other details remain.
“We have to work on all kinds of agreements between the county and the city, which we’re already been working on,” Sauer said. “We want to keep moving this forward as fast as we can. We’re going to try and leave no stone unturned. We’re going to make sure this building is built to take us into the future for many, many years.”
The county won’t receive any tax revenue until August.
“We will start working on a piece of property, architect, figure out when we can get things designed and break ground. We would love to break ground in a year. We’re hoping we can say three years from now, ‘Here’s what you voted for.’”
Low participation, daily impact (Subhead)
A total of 2,205 ballots were cast out of 13,042 registered voters in Perry County. That translates to an overall turnout of 16.91 percent.
I had multiple chances to do a prediction. I kind of had a wide range. It’s hard to tell based on what I’m seeing walking in the door on absentee (ballots). Weather, obviously, is going to have an impact. We had a gorgeous. My low range was 17 percent and we almost got there. I’m pleased but as I’m always said I believe that municipal elections are the most important elections that we participate in because these individuals affect us directly. This is our health department that these board members are going to serve on. This is our hospital board that these board members are going to serve on.”
“It benefits our county a lot,” said Scott Sattler, one of three members of the Proposition C.O.P.S. Committee. “I just think it was the right time because of the shift of 911. (There is a push in) trying put them together with dispatch anyway
Combining that and being able to share resources between departments, that started it, as well as the condition of the current jail.
“It provides a more safer environment for those in jail,” Sattler said. “It benefits everybody.”
Initial estimates have the joint justice center costing at least $15 million to construct, according to Sauer.
It’s not the first time the city and county have worked together on a joint project to benefit residents. In 1996, county voters narrowly adopted a measure to construct the Perry Park Center.
The highest turnout turnout took place at the Frohna precinct, at 29.80 percent, as 121 ballots were cast among 406 registered voters. Other precincts at or above 20 percent were Altenburg at 26.3 percent (111 ballots cast out of 422 registered voters), Belgique at 21.29 percent (76 ballots cast among 357 registered voters) and Highland at 20.25 percent (99 ballots cast among 489 registered voters).
On the low end, the Silver Lake precinct was at just 7.59 percent, with 41 ballots cast among 540 voters. This total was slightly below the Young precinct, which was at 8.46 percent (54 ballots cast among 638 registered votes.
In many cases, Kutz noted, the turnout is usually a little more fluid, but every election is different.
“That’s voter turnout,” he said. “That’s just how it works out.”
Other races (subhead)
While the Proposition C.O.P.S. initiative garnered much of the attention leading into Tuesday, there were other contested races. For the Perry County Health Department Board of Trustees Chris Wibbenmeyer (1,099 votes, 21.77 percent), Keith Carroll (975 votes, 19.31 percent) and Denise Morrison (845 votes, 16.74) each spots ahead of Alexandria Lueders (740 votes, 14.66 percent), Carisa Stark (14.14 percent) and Carol Moore (659 votes, 13.05 percent).
For the Perry County Memorial Hospital Board of Trustees, Patrick Naeger collected 702 votes (33.19) in holding off William “Bill” Bohnert (672 votes, 31.77 percent), Linda Buerck (510 votes, 24.11 percent) and Sharon Unterreiner (225 votes, 10.64 percent).
In the race for Altenburg Public School District No. 48 Board of Education Sarah Stueve (155 votes, 40.58 percent) and Brittany Hecht (147 votes, 38.48 percent) held off Zach france (56 votes, 14.66 percent) for three-year positions. An addition 24 votes (6.28 percent) were for a write-in candidate.
Harold France (103 votes, 51.76 percent) outlasted declared write-in candidate Lindsey Palisch (96 votes, 48.24 percent), though Kutz cautioned that race isn’t finalized yet.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do on that yet because of the tallying process,” Kutz said. “We’re going to go in and hand count every one of those write-in votes. The tallying process is not something our election judges do every election. This is close. That’s a school board (position). That’s something that’s very important to people. We want to go in and make sure that number is spot on, 100 percent.”
The three-year term had no declared write-in and Kutz confirmed that “some people did write the write-in (candidate’s name) in that spot. That is not the job of the election authority to educate the voters on where to write that in. Ultimately, where the vote is cast is where the vote is cast.”
Absentee results accounted for less than five percent (102 votes among 2,205 cast, 4.62 percent) of the municipal election total.
“That’s typical for a municipal election,” Kutz said, adding it usually is in the three to five percent range.
“Altenburg and Frohna, it’s clearly an indication that they had a write-in election and that a candidate worked very hard.
Kutz said he has only seen one successful write-in campaign in his time involved with election.
“(Lindsey) Palisch worked really hard,” he said. “When your name is not on that ballot, it is hard to win. “
Kutz credited the work of the election judges Tuesday.
We can’t do any of this process without our election judges. These are folks who want to serve and be part of the process. Many of them do it for years and years.
They show up 5:30 in the morning and are there until 7:30, 8 o’clock at night
They’re experts at what they do and I couldn’t do it without them. I can’t compliment them enough on how important they are and how good they are at their job. Thank you to all of them.”