Many residents confused about Cape's ward system

Sunday, September 2, 2001

Southeast Missourian

Cape Girardeau resident Elmer Westbrook answered the question with an incredulous query of his own: "Why would I know something like that?"

The question: Which city ward do you live in? The answer, though indirect, was telling.

"I don't pay any attention to that," said Westbrook, 77. "Who has time to? I don't even vote. The only time I ever voted was when my uncle was running for sheriff of Advance."

While the ward system was implemented in 1994, many in Cape Girardeau likely share Westbrook's confusion. In fact, of the 10 random city residents reached at home Friday, none knew which ward they live in or who their city council representative is.

Some said they didn't want their names used in print for fear of appearing ignorant. But they were not alone in their lack of ward knowledge.

"I know who some of the city council people are," offered Danny Ward, 30. "But I don't know which ward I live in or which one represents which ward."

Ward said that knowing which ward he lives in is not high on his list of priorities. "People pay attention when there's an issue that comes up," he said. "Otherwise, they don't think about it. If their street gets torn up or something, then they find out."

Mollie Wilt, 72, agreed.

"People may not know off the top of their head, but when it comes down to the nitty gritty, they find out," Wilt said. "It's the same thing as asking what I had for lunch last week. I couldn't tell you. It was satisfying at the time, but it's not important to me right at this minute."

Joanne Lewis, a 35-year-old stay-at-home mom, said she was never told which ward she lives in when she moved her 2 1/2 years ago.

"I don't know how I'm supposed to know," she said. "It's not a very public office. I'm fairly informed, but no one really ever talks about this."

Roy Heise, 38, summed it up this way.

"Apparently, if nobody knows, it must not be too darn important."

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: