Write-in candidate beats Cape filing deadline

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Debra Tracy has less than two weeks to sell voters on her last-minute candidacy for the Cape Girardeau City Council. Tracy filed Friday as a write-in candidate for the Ward 3 council seat, little more than hour before the filing deadline.

Tracy, 51, of 689 Highland Drive, is the third candidate in a race in which the other two candidates -- Stan Wicks and R. Todd McBride -- both were prosecuted for felony crimes in the past 15 years.

Wicks was charged with driving drunk and McBride with conspiring to commit arson.

Wicks served two years in prison. McBride received a suspended imposition of sentence and ultimately no criminal record or conviction.

Both men now operate local businesses. But their past legal problems had some voters wishing for another candidate to choose from in the April 5 election.

Cape Girardeau County Prosecuting Attorney Morley Swingle publicly had suggested that the situation warranted a write-in candidate.

But Tracy said she didn't decide to run because of any legal problems that Wicks and McBride had faced. "I do not know them at all," she said of her opponents.

She said family, friends and neighbors had encouraged her to run. "People wanted another choice," Tracy said.

She said she's running partly because she wants to improve her neighborhood. Tracy said she's concerned about the traffic congestion caused by Southeast Missouri State University students parking along West End Boulevard and neighboring streets bordering the campus.

Tracy, who has been a volunteer with a Christian outreach ministry, said she plans to go door to door and circulate fliers to promote her candidacy.

The regular filing deadline for the Ward 3 seat was Jan. 18.

Wicks and McBride had to submit nominating petitions to file as candidates. As a write-in candidate, Tracy didn't have to submit a petition.

But she did have to meet all other eligibility requirements including a residency requirement. Under the city charter, candidates must be at least 21 years of age, a registered voter, a resident of the city for at least two years prior to their election and a resident of the ward for at least 90 prior to the start of the filing period. The filing period for this election began Dec. 21.

As a write-in candidate, Tracy's name won't appear on the ballot. Voters will have to write in her name on the line provided on the optical-scan ballots and fill in the oval next to that line, said Patty Schlosser, Cape Girardeau County elections supervisor.

Election judges at the polling places won't remind voters of Tracy's candidacy unless asked, Schlosser said.

Write-in votes only are counted in the case of candidates who file with the county clerk's office by the required deadline, she said.

mbliss@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 123

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