Last Tuesday the citizens of Shawnee crushed, by an 80/20 vote, the proposed $47.5 million capital improvement package. But average margin of 80 percent not really. Now 3,935 voters is a pretty good turnout for a special election, but since just 13 percent of Shawnee voted, only 10 percent of Shawnee defeated the package. As one of the 10 percent that was OK by me, but it shows just how popular the Facility Formerly Known as Sports Park (FFKSP) wasn’t. If there was an actual need for more baseball and soccer fields, the organized leagues around town could have prodded more people to take the few minutes to vote.
As for the other propositions, I may be wrong, but most who voted were property owners whose taxes were targeted. Some believed the Expo, 911 and other infrastructure upgrades might be needed, but that everyone should be paying the bill. Not just them. But the sales tax was already chained to the unwanted FFKSP so that $19 million couldn’t be used for first things instead of last.
Hopefully, the Commission has learned. Listen to the citizens. They were loud and clear before the special election was announced and have been consistent for years. Fix what’s broke first. A shiny new FFKSP is useless to a town the residents think is in bad shape, in an economy still going south. Change that perception and the rest will follow. The land isn’t going anywhere.
It would also be good strategy if part of the Commission wasn’t rooting for failure. A united front might get more support, and besides, the November election would have brought out more voters. Some of them may have actually been convinced by those slick proposition maps “Produced by the City of Shawnee” and rolled out the Saturday before the election, using our money. Did anyone else wonder how much?