Amherst League of Women Voters Candidates Night
If last night's turnout for the annual League of Women Voters Candidates Night is any indication the voter turnout for Amherst's 256th annual spring election March 31st will be pretty darn good.
But by usual standards -- 13.6% last year and a pathetic 6.6% in 2012 -- it really doesn't take much to deem a local election turnout as "good." In fact my threshold for a "good turnout" is a pretty modest 15%. Even the recent UMass Student Government Election managed to muster that.
Standing room only crowd last night almost none "college aged"
Although to be fair (and balanced), I suppose UMass SGA was a "presidential" election, and when it comes to the once-every-four-years presidential election Amherst falls all over itself to vote: turning out 69% in 2012 and a whopping 89% in 1992 when Slick Willy was at his peak.
With no controversial ballot questions (aka Charter vote to dump Town Meeting or Proposition 2.5 Override) and no contests for Select Board -- the top executive position in town -- the turnout will be low. Very low. As in maybe not ever double-digit.
While the School Committee technically does not have a race according to the official ballot, the write in candidate, Victor Nunez-Ortiz, certainly has a chance to ride a wave of discontent over racial issues which have roiled school operations over the past few years.
The League of Women Voters Candidates night still has that old fashioned meet and greet, press the flesh campaign feel to it. Something that's starting to get lost in the digital age of Facebook, Twitter, blogs and of course in the national Big Leagues of campaigns, radio and television ads.
Perhaps the clearest loser last night was Emilie Hamilton, who failed to show up to state her case for being elected to the Amherst Housing Authority, thus leaving candidate Tracylee Boutilier even more time to speak directly to the voters.
And if I had to guess, of the 75 people in the room last night almost 100% of them will show up at the polls March 31st.