Cape Girardeau voters are expected to turn out in strong numbers Tuesday when they select a new mayor and decide the fate of a $40 million school bond issue.
As of Friday, 144 voters had cast absentee ballots in Cape Girardeau County, said County Clerk Kara Clark-Summers. "That is high for an April election," she said.
With little outside the county's largest city to draw voters -- three precinct voting locations have been moved because so few voters there had anything on the ballot -- most of the action Tuesday will be in Cape Girardeau. "It should be much better turnout than usual," Clark-Summers said.
Voters will select a replacement for Mayor Jay Knudtson, who is barred from seeking a third term because of term limits. Retired businessman Harry Rediger is running on his record of community service in areas ranging from United Way and Saint Francis Medical Center to 21 years on the city Planning and Zoning Commission. Former Ward 5 Councilman Matt Hopkins seeks to replace Knudtson by touting his experience in city hall with budgets, expansion issues and downtown revitalization efforts.
Election ballots in surrounding counties include:
* A $2.4 million bond issue for the Altenburg School District in Perry County to replace aging school buildings.
* A $12 million water and sewer bond issue in Chaffee in Scott County to upgrade water treatment and prevent environmental violations at the sewer plant.
* A vote on extending a three-eighths-cent sales tax in Perry County. The money is used to pave and maintain county roads.
* A seven-way contest for two seats on the Scott City School Board.
Polls open at 6 a.m. and close at 7 p.m.
Both mayoral candidates agree that renewing the city's half-cent sales tax for roads, keeping a focus on Broadway and other DREAM Initiative areas and replacing the city's aging sewage treatment plant will be major items on the city's agenda over the next four years.
The sewage plant is the most expensive item on that list. The city must do something to satisfy the state Department of Natural Resources as water quality standards are tightened. "You do what you have to do because there is no other choice when it comes to the regulatory agencies," Hopkins said.
Both men said they were unsure how the city will pay the costs, in part because the costs are unknown.
In addition to mayor, voters in Wards 1 and 2 will select council members. In Ward 1, incumbent John Voss faces a challenge from tax accountant Teresa Robinson, while in Ward 2, Stafford L. Moore, who works at Procter & Gamble in human resources, and Meg Davis-Proffer, a sales representative for Mississippi River Radio, are vying to replace council member Charlie Herbst.
The Cape Girardeau School District's $40 million bond issue is the district's first in more than a decade. It is being promoted as an opportunity to catch up with deferred maintenance, add high school classrooms, replace Franklin Elementary School and build long-desired items such as a football stadium and performance auditorium.
Repaying the bonds would not require an increase in property taxes but would extend the current levy for debt service for another 10 years.
Other county races include a contest for an unexpired Jackson Board of Aldermen term in Ward 1 and board elections in Dutchtown, Allenville and for the East County Fire Protection District as well as the Delta School Board.
Clark-Summers is sending voters in the Byrd 5/6, Brown Owl and Fruitland precincts to other locations because they had seven, 14, and 30 voters eligible to cast ballots, too few to support the expense of manning those polling stations. Her office sent letters to each voter eligible for Tuesday's election informing them of the alternate polling site, she said.
401 Independence St., Cape Girardeau, MO
301 N. Clark Ave., Cape Girardeau, MO