Voter turnout in Jasper County will likely have its highs and lows today, according to Jasper County Clerk Bonnie Earl.
“We’ve gotten over 500 absentee ballots so far,” Earl said on Monday. “Most of them have come from the Joplin courthouse. That tells me turnout in Joplin could be pretty high, but it could be pretty low in the rest of the county.”
The issue driving people to the polls in Joplin is likely a $62 million school bond issue to help pay for $185 million in construction to rebuild from the devastating May 22, 2011 tornado.
The issue, which would raise property taxes in Joplin by 35 cents from $3.31 to $3.65 for every $100 of assessed valuation, needs a 57.14 percent majority of voters in the Joplin school district in both Jasper and Newton counties.
Carthage voters will not vote on that bond issue and it will not affect property tax rates outside the Joplin school district.
In Carthage voters are choosing people to serve on the Carthage R-9 Board of Education and the Carthage City Council.
Three people are running for two seats on the school board. Challenger Sheila VonHolten is running against incumbents Michael Goolsby and Lee Elliff Pound for two three-year seats on the board.
The top two vote-getters will take the seats.
Voters in each of the five wards will choose at least one candidate for Carthage City Council.
Voters in the Ward 2 will be voting for two candidates, although both those candidates are running unopposed and are already serving their terms.
Voters will have choices in three wards.
• Ward 1: Incumbent Kirby Newport, 1515 S. Buena Vista St., who was appointed to replace his father, Claude Newport in the fall of 2011, faces an election challenge from Trevor C. Smith, 1124 Valley St., for a full two-year term in that seat, which represents the east side of Carthage generally north of 15th Street.
• Ward 3: Two-term incumbent John Studebaker, 1058 S. Garrison Ave., faces a challenge from Dustin Blankenship, 1210 Douglas Court, for that two-year term representing Ward 3 on the west side of Carthage along Macon Street and northwest of Centennial Avenue and the railroad tracks west of Case Street.
• Ward 4: Former Council Member Lee Carlson, 721 Euclid Blvd., and retired businessman Dick Fanning, 1815 Bluebird Way, are vying to represent this district in the southeast corner of Carthage for the next two years. Carlson was appointed to Ward 4 for a year and served until he lost a close race in 2011 to former Fire Chief John Cooper. Cooper did not file to run again.
• In Ward 5, the southwest part of Carthage, west of south Grand Avenue, Jason T. A. Shelfer, 1628 S. Maple St., will run unopposed.