Despite Iowa legislators’ efforts to increase voter participation by consolidating municipal and school board elections in 2019, turnout in Black Hawk and Tama counties remained relatively low in last week’s election, registering at about 19%.
A pair of contributing factors offers possible explanations for the lack of voter participation locally. Each of the seven seats available, three on the La Porte City City Council and four on the Union Community Schools Board of Directors, saw races where candidates ran unopposed. Incumbents Jasmine Gaston, Brett Hakeman and Kristi Harrill easily retained their City Council seats, with no challenges offered from other candidates. Four seats on the Union School Board were also filled in races that saw incumbents Corey Lorenzen, Brandon Paine and Jenna Scott, along with newcomer Ben Schimmel, running unopposed. Incumbent Cathy Niebergall did not seek reelection.
Perhaps the lack of candidates was an indicator of another reason for low voter turnout- a general lack of controversial issues before each of the governing bodies.
Once the election canvas has been completed and the election results are certified as official, the new school board members will be sworn in and begin their service immediately. Each of the City Council members elected officially begin their terms on January 1, 2020.