City Council election draws more students than past years; voter turnout stays low

Joshua Johnson, freshman in mathematics, receives a sticker after voting for City Council on Tuesday, Nov. 5 at Maple Hall. Johnson was the 7th voter to vote at Maple Hall as of 4 p.m. 

City council Election Day saw an increase in student activity around campus on Tuesday.

“I believe it is an increase compared to past city elections,” said Joyce Carney, election official. “One reason might have been that candidates have gone around talking to and recruiting students in this precinct in the past few weeks.”

There were approximately 13 voters at the Union Community Drive Center, and 10 of those were students, said Joyce Carney, election official. Although this number is not high, Carney said it is an increase from previous years.

“Students are really important for these elections because they live in this city,” said Carney. “They are affected by the laws and everything that the city does, but they might not know that they’re affected by it.”

There were 16 total votes at Maple Hall, the largest number of votes at Maple Hall in a local non-partisan election in more than four years, said Dee Dreeson, election official.

Of the 240 voters at the Collegiate Presbyterian Church, about 10 were student voters, said Jan Bauer, election official. This number is higher than last year, Bauer said.

Winners of the city council elections were Mayor Ann Campbell, 1st Ward Rep. Gloria Betcher, 2nd Ward Rep.  Tim Gartin, 3rd Ward Rep.  Peter Orazem, 4th Ward Rep. Chris Nelson and At-Large Rep. Amber Corrieri.

Memorial Lutheran Church saw about 34 voters, said Alice Peters, election official.

Greek students were among these voters.

“The main reasons [for our voting] are fire codes and trying to make sure the houses are safe,” said Mitchell Hora, freshman in agricultural systems technology and member of Alpha Gamma Rho. “Our house has money but others don’t, and they would be pretty much forced to shut down.”

Some greek student voters were under the assumption that certain candidates would enforce the Ames rental housing code for greek houses.

“We don’t want anybody to have to shut down,” said Tyler Houghland, freshman in agricultural business and member of Alpha Gamma Rho. “We voted for a [former] greek member who is against that.”

Harvey said this could have impacted voting.

“Honestly, I’d like to say no but, I think it has impacted voting,“ Harvey said. “A lot of people don’t see the city as being a part of their daily lives. I think the greek system kind of brought that to light.”

Harvey said she believes that miscommunication was never fully clarified to the greek community.

Chris Nelson won the 4th Ward City Council seat, which encompasses Campustown, with 525 votes to Victoria Szopinski’s 464.

Abigail Romano, sophomore in global resource systems decided to vote.

“I hope the City Council will try to get students more involved so that we can know what’s happening more and help more in the decision-making process,” Romano said.

Although student participation increased, the number of student voters was still low.

“I think students might not feel as connected to their city as city residents,” said Lucy Martin, auditor and commissioner of Story County elections. “The fact that students belong to somewhat of a transient population doesn’t help either.”

Danielle Ferguson contributed to this story.