Election Day: A primer on Missouri’s biggest local issues, races

Votes will be cast in local elections across the state on Tuesday, with a variety of seats and issues on the ballots. In addition to mayoral elections in St. Louis and Springfield and city council positions in Columbia and Springfield, a number of other issues and positions will be decided by Tuesday’s votes.

Expansion of the MetroLink and construction of a new soccer stadium are major issues for which tax increases are proposed in St. Louis. In Kansas City, voters will decide the fate of what would be the largest collection of bond authorizations in the city’s history, to be used on infrastructure improvements.

The following are the big issues on the ballot in Missouri on Tuesday:

Kansas City

Voters will decide on $800 million in bond authorizations, the largest general obligation bond authorizations in Kansas City history. A majority of the bonds would go towards bridge, road and sidewalk projects across the city. Part of the funds would also be used for improving flood control, public buildings and replacing an animal shelter.

Other issues on the ballot include a ⅛-cent sales tax, which would benefit economic development in central Kansas City, according to the proposal’s proponents.

Voters also will decide on a  proposal to eliminate jail time for simple possession of marijuana and reduce the maximum fine for the offense from $500 to $25.

St. Louis

In St. Louis, voters head to the polls to elect the 46th mayor in the city’s history. Incumbent Mayor Francis Slay is not running for reelection. Lyda Krewson won the Democratic Primary on March 7, in a city that has voted for Democrat mayoral candidates in every election since 1949. Krewson’s Republican challenger is Andrew Jones.

Apart from the mayoral race, the issues on the ballot include Proposition 1, which would increase sales taxes a half-cent for “economic development,” including an extension of the city’s MetroLink system. While the money raised would not be enough to pay for the extension in its entirety, proponents argue that the funding will be required to do preliminary engineering that will be required to receive federal funding.

Contingent on Proposition 1 passing, Proposition 2 would levy a sales tax on in-state businesses making out-of-state purchases that are not currently covered by a sales tax. Funds raised would go toward a new soccer stadium near Union Station. The tax increase would cover about a third of the total cost of the stadium. Proponents of the stadium project and Major League Soccer leadership have said an MLS franchise would likely land in the city if both propositions pass.

St. Louis County

Proposition P would bring about a half-cent sales tax increase to help raise money “for the purpose of providing funds to improve police and public safety.” The increase in sales tax is projected to raise $80 million to hire more police officers in the county, raise police salaries, expand training and upgrade equipment.

Springfield

Six positions on the city council, including the mayor’s position, are up for grabs on Tuesday. Thirteen candidates are vying for those spots.

The race for mayor is between Ken McClure, who has worked in state and local government, including a stint on the Springfield City Council, and Kristi Fulnecky, a small business owner and attorney.

Voters also will decide the fate of a $189 million bond issue proposed by the Springfield school board. If approved, the issue would be the largest in the history of Springfield Public Schools and increase the tax bill on a $100,000 house by an average of $46 a year.

Columbia

In Columbia, seats on the city council, school board and hospital board of trustees are up for grabs on Tuesday.

Two seats are up for election on the Columbia city council, with three candidates vying for one and two candidates seeking the other. Three seats will be filled for the Columbia Board of Education, and two seats on the Boone County Hospital Center Board of Trustees are up for election.


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