The votes have been counted, the results posted, and for the most part, everything went smoothly for Saturday’s general and special elections. The 31,549 of you who voted should be proud.
That’s not a misprint. Of the 438,864 registered to vote in Denton County, only 7.19 percent chose to make the decisions that will impact 100 percent of the county.
Among the victors in Saturday’s elections were Chris Watts, re-elected to a third and final term as mayor of Denton; incumbent Denton ISD school board members Jeanetta Smith and Barbara Burns; and the Denton ISD school bond proposition, which garnered 74.44 percent of the 10,615 ballots cast.
Taking a look at just the school bond issue, at $750 million, this one bond is larger than the combined total of all other bond packages approved over the past 10 years. It will directly impact, in one way or another, all 27,000-plus students in the county’s second-largest district.
Among the to-do items earmarked for the bond proceeds are money for a ninth middle school, a 25th elementary school, “replacement” campuses for several aging buildings, renovations to 16 existing campuses and additions to extracurricular facilities.
The bond package is inarguably a big deal. But only a small fraction of registered voters felt it important enough to cast a ballot for or against. In fact, votes per pupil measured out at an embarrassing 1-to-0.4 or so.
With the election of a mayor or council member, the votes cast will essentially determine policy that impacts your drive to and from work, the options for spending your money, and even how much money you have to spend once tax rates are set. With the election of a school board member, the votes cast will essentially establish educational policy that could impact generations to come and even determine the value of your home as real estate markets often are directly tied to school success.
The list goes on and on. The importance and duration of these future decisions demand due diligence among the electorate.
So where do the most committed and duty-bound voters in Denton County live? According to unofficial but complete data provided by the county Elections Administration, the voters living in Precinct 1048 — the Lakewood Village development — had the highest turnout, with 34.6 percent of the 792 registered voters casting a vote.
And those who could use the biggest prod going forward? Residents living in Precinct 2018 — the area surrounding Hebron in the southeastern portion of the county — had a turnout of 0.46 percent, in which only 14 of the 3,057 registered voters cast a ballot. And at least one precinct, tiny 4016 just southwest of Corinth, had a turnout of 0 percent, in which none of the six registered voters participated.
There are certain lessons to take away from Saturday’s elections and — with at least one major race, the Denton City Council Place 5 seat, going to a runoff — certain areas in which to apply them.
In the Place 5 race, Aaron “Fuzzy” Newquist finished with the most votes — 3,556, or 46.84 percent of the total, just under the 50.01 percent margin needed for outright victory. He will face Deb Armintor, who finished second with 2,871 votes or 37.82 percent of the total.
One of the other Place 5 candidates — Jodi Vicars-Nance, who garnered 833 votes or 10.97 percent of the total — already has thrown her support to Newquist. All signs point to a vibrant, heated race for the June 16 runoff.
It will be another opportunity, along with the May 22 primary runoff, to cast a vote that will have lasting impact. Be the responsible voter we need and do your part by participating in the process. And if you happen to live in one of the areas that largely stayed home on Saturday, be sure to set an alarm.
We can’t afford to snooze on another election.