In response to the move to recall her as Columbia’s First Ward City Council Representative, Councilperson Ginny Chadwick posted the following on her official Facebook page
Considering her focus on the notion that Council representatives are elected by a “majority of the people” and that statements regarding her recall are “clearly from the minority,” it seems appropriate to break down the numbers. Councilperson Chadwick has made it clear that her resounding First Ward election victory should be interpreted as a mandate from “the people” that we should all unquestioningly accept her policy proposals. After all, her campaign garnered 64% of the votes cast.
But how many votes were cast?
The First Ward has a population of 18,212. According to Director Art Auer at the Boone County Clerk’s Office, the First Ward had 9,803 registered voters on the books during the April election. Ginny Chadwick won the election with 525 votes. Votes for Chadwick represent 5.36% of registered voters in her ward. 525 votes is 2.88% of the population of the First Ward. 525 is 0.45% of Columbia’s 115,276 total population.
The reality is that 525 votes is not a meaningful number of votes. 525 votes does not a mandate make.
When confronted with these numbers, the first thing out of most people’s mouths is “voter apathy,” or “it’s their own fault.” While it might be the fault of the First Ward, the problem was not voter apathy. There was really no reason for anyone to turn out at the polls because there was simply no one to vote for.
The only First Ward failure was the failure to find a worthy candidate to run. Even the liberal political strategist Jeff Chinn of Progressive Political Partners, mastermind of many recent liberal council victories, reportedly opposed Chadwick’s candidacy, but failed to muster a suitable candidate for the position.
Chadwick’s only opposition was Tyree Byndom, a local community leader who was forbidden from campaigning by the tenants of his Baha’i faith, and Bill Easley, a cantankerous elderly gentleman with a penchant for unintelligible, boisterous rants.
Although Byndom would likely have served the ward well, his absence from the campaign trail and refusal to take a public position on any issue was a turn-off for voters. Also running was last-minute, write-in candidate John Clark, a local political gadfly. Considering the options, it is easy to see why most voters asked, “why bother?”
Another measure of the Chadwick “majority” and the recall “minority” can be found on Facebook. Chadwick’s Councilwoman Chadwick Facebook Page boasts 356 “likes” after more than six months in office. By comparison, the Recall First Ward Councilperson Ginny Chadwick Facebook page garnered more “likes” than Chadwick’s page in only a few days and today stands at 389.
There is little doubt that this recall will be successful. There are viable candidates in the pipeline, but recall supporters are playing their cards close to the chest.