t’s here! The much anticipated, oft imitated, never duplicated, off-year Election Day Twenty Twenty-Three!
No, seriously folks. There’s an election on November 7th. In fact, there’s an election every single November. For reals.
See, typically no one gives a rat’s patoot about off-year municipal elections, with no countywide, state or federal seats up for grabs. Turnout hovers in the middling single digits. The overwhelming majority of registered voters don’t know, don’t care, and don’t vote.
Because of that voter apathy, it’s rare for high-stakes issues to be placed on off-year ballots. Most issue campaigns prefer higher turnout Presidential elections, especially for issues that poll well with the general public. Because the general public usually only votes in Presidential elections.
This year is the outlier. Not one, but two hot-button issues are on the ballot. Reproductive rights and recreational marijuana. A woman’s right to choose and a stoner’s right to toke. However you calls ‘em, Issues One and Two are the highest of high-stakes. Especially Issue Two, but we digress.
Which leads us to our first peerless prediction. Turnout will be record high for an off-year municipal election. Access to reproductive health care is on the ballot, and that will drive record numbers of women to the polls. Pot will get the normally apathetic crowd off their couches and away from their microwaves and out to the voting booth. Voters across the political spectrum who can’t name Toledo’s mayor nevertheless have strong opinions on these issues, and will show up to vote for them.
Dare we say Lucas County breaks thirty percent turnout countywide? Yes, we dare.
What’s in a name?
This makes predicting other races a bit more difficult, since they won’t be as sleepy as usual. Of course, lots of them are uncontested. But the ones with multiple candidates could turn on which side of the issues mobilizes its voters to the polls.
Making the difficult look easy is our raison d’etre, folks. Our mantra is to throw caution to the wind, so here goes nuthin’.
The District One City Council race will be tight. The incumbent, John Hobbs, had his scandal allegedly double counting time spent concurrently at two jobs. Challenger Shaun Strong got let go by the City he now wants to lead. Strong has run before, but there’s power in incumbency. Hobbs wins by eight percentage points.
The Toledo School Board race is interesting because incumbent Sheena Barnes didn’t file petitions on time and must run as a write-in candidate. Fellow incumbent, appointee Randall Parker, is the only name on the ballot. He’s been appointed to office previously and lost elections before, but if he loses this time to write-in candidates, he should seriously hang it up. Barnes faces other declared write-in candidates, but she’s an incumbent and better funded and organized. Parker wins, and Barnes finishes second, so both retain their seats.
Incumbent Toledo Council member Carrie Hartman faces someone whose name we can’t recall, and District Five incumbent Sam Melden’s opponent, Tom Names, is only memorable because he’s a perennial loser. Hartman wins by double digits, and Melden wins so easily his opponent will concede before the polls even open.
To recap. Turnout high. Issue Two voters higher. Incumbents win. When this column can’t remember your name, drop out. When we can remember your name because you’re a full-on loser, drop out and don’t come back.
Now go vote like your future depends on it. Because it does.
Vote November 7th!