DECATUR — A low-key campaign season will come to a close Tuesday as Macon County voters head to the polls to cast ballots in a slew of local races.
There has not been much buzz around this election season as the COVID-19 pandemic limits in-person campaigning and with the lack of marquee races across much of the county.
There are a few competitive races, but many more that are uncontested and even some offices where no candidates have filed to run.
Macon County Clerk Josh Tanner anticipates better citizen participation compared to the February primary election, but still relatively low turnout.
"We anticipate much higher turnout than the primary although much smaller than November," Tanner said.
Tanner said turnout would likely range between 15% and 20%. In February's Decatur-only primary election, turnout was just 7%.
At the end of the day Monday, 1,028 county residents had voted early in-person and 167 of 381 requested mail-in ballots had been returned. There are 72,880 registered voters in Macon County.
Tanner said his office is ready to go for Tuesday's election. Polls are open from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m.
"This is the third one in less than six months. So yeah, we have pretty well-oiled down and everything's good to go," Tanner said. "Election judges are always questionable. We've had a number of them call today and cancel, so it'll depend on how many show up on Election Day, but we have enough to cover all of the polling places and get them open."
There are races taking place across the county, but most of the action is within the city of Decatur, where a slew of candidates are battling for positions on the city council, park district board and school board.
For the Decatur City Council, there are six candidates vying for three seats.
They include incumbents David Horn and Chuck Kuhle, who have served on the council since 2017, and challengers Ed Culp, Jacob Jenkins, Marty Watkins and Will Wetzel.
The six advanced after being the top vote-getters in the February primary election, which featured 12 candidates.
Horn and Culp finished at the top of the list, followed closely by Kuhle and Watkins. Wetzel and Jenkins were a distant fifth and sixth, respectively.
Several issues came to the fore in a series of candidate forums. Among them, the future of the legal cannabis industry within in the city.
Horn, Watkins, Wetzel and Jenkins have all expressed support for allowing cannabis dispensaries and related-businesses operate within city limits. Culp and Kuhle are both against cannabis at this time.
The recent spike in violent crime and long-term challenges like economic development and addressing population loss were also constant themes throughout the race.
The race for four seats on the Decatur school board has been a bit of a free-for-all. With no incumbents running for reelection, there are seven challengers vying for the opportunity to serve.
The candidates are Jason Wayne Dion, Krystal Johnson, Ferlaxnes Carson, Kevin Collins-Brown, Al Scheider, Alana Giselle Banks and Jayjuan Young.
A top pressing issue for the new board will be choosing a new superintendent to replace Paul Fregeau, who is leaving June 30. A common theme among the candidates has also been the need for more transparency from the board.
On the Decatur Park Board, there are three candidates vying for two positions. They include incumbents Stacey Young and Bob Brilley II, and newcomer Barbara Chapman.
Board members are currently tasked with filling the position of longtime board member Jack Kenny and Executive Director Bill Clevenger, who's set to retire at the end of the year.
Other contested races around the county include:
Current Richland Community College board members Tom Ritter and Vicki Carr are being challenged by Jaime Shobe-Brown for two seats carrying 6-year terms. Longtime board member Randy Prince is not seeking reelection. There is no candidate on the ballot for an unexpired two-year term.
In Maroa, incumbent Mayor Aaron Meador is being challenged by Kevin McCullough. Ward 1 aldermanic candidates are Robert L. Harper and Wayne C. Kissinger.
In Blue Mound, incumbent Village President Scott Younger is being challenged by Jeffrey Foulks. Five candidates are vying for three village trustee seats.
In Harristown, incumbent Mayor Evelyn Deverell is being challenged by David Whitaker. Clerk Penny Allen is being challenged by Samantha West.
In Warrensburg, Village Trustee Leland Hackl is taking on Kirk Riley in an open race for village president.