POLITICS

A Bunch Of Towns Neighboring Ferguson Held Crucial Elections This Week, And Hardly Anyone Noticed

04/10/2015 06:20 pm ET | Updated Apr 10, 2015

ST. LOUIS -- The municipal election in Ferguson, Missouri, this week captivated the nation’s attention by attracting a record-breaking voter turnout. But elections in many nearby municipalities, which share some of the same problems as Ferguson, saw lower voter participation.

Here's a breakdown of what Election Day meant for some nearby towns:

Calverton Park
Square mileage: 0.41
Population: 1,293 as of 2010
Voters: 190 (for mayor)
Number of full-time officers: 15
Officers per 1,000 people: 12
Average officer salary: not provided
Police department budget: $587,626
Percentage of revenue from fines and fees: 66.3 percent

Take, for example, Calverton Park, which borders Ferguson and is part of the same school district. Taking up less than half of a square mile, Calverton Park is home to just over 3,000 residents. On Tuesday, the city’s former chairman of trustees, John A. Paunovich, was elected mayor with 152 votes, which was 80 percent. Paunovich recently told The New York Times that municipalities that have few or no businesses, like Calverton Park, do not have many ways to raise revenue. The city gets about 66 percent of its revenue from court fines and fees.

Normandy
Square mileage: 1.85
Population: 4,987
Voters: 118 for ward 1; 91 for ward 2; 94 for ward 3; 72 for ward 4
Number of full-time officers: 31
Number of officers per 1,000 people: 4
Average officer salary: $40,878
Police department budget: $2,063,285
Percentage of revenue from fines and fees: 40.6 percent

In Normandy, where 40 percent of the revenue is obtained from court fees, 63 percent of voters decided on propositions that allow the mayor and aldermen to appoint the police chief rather than allow residents to vote for one. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "proponents of the proposition say appointments are made more on merit than politics and that fewer elections would save money for the city." The city also voted yes on a proposition to collect money by charging telecommunications companies $2,000 for antenna towers.

Normandy, which operates its municipal court nearly identical to how Ferguson runs its court, also had seats open for its city council. Two candidates were re-elected, one won in an unopposed race, and newcomer Kimberly Knox ousted councilman Brian Quinslisk by earning 67 percent of the votes.

Moline Acres
Population: 2,442
Square miles: 0.57
Voters: 328 (for mayor)
Number of full-time officers: 12
Number of officers per 1,000 people: 5
Average officer salary: $27,476.80
Police department budget: $749,684
Percentage of revenue from fines and fees: 31.1 percent

Leading up to -- and even on -- Election Day, the city of Moline Acres attracted plenty of attention from local news. First, there was a dispute over missing campaign signs: Candidate Janice Jones accused Mayor Michele DeShay and her husband, the city's director of public works, of having some of Jones' signs removed from the side of streets. The DeShays said the placement of the signs violated a city ordinance.

Then, four hours before polling places closed, Jones was arrested for driving erratically.

Only 15 percent of the town's 2,000 residents voted. Jones received only 55 votes, losing to DeShay, who received 273.

Edmundson
Square miles: 0.26
Population: 834
Voters: 91
Number of full-time officers: 11
Officers per 1,000 people: 13
Average officer salary: $41,106
Police department budget: $948,920
Percentage of revenue from fines and fees: 34.9 percent

Edmundson Mayor John Gwaltney wrote a memo last April urging his officers to write more "good" tickets. In March, local lawmakers voted down legislation that would have limited how much revenue could be collected from traffic fines.

Gwaltney received 71 votes in the race for mayor, giving him 78 percent of the overall vote.

St. Ann
Square miles: 3.2
Population: 13,020
Voters: 948 for mayor; 244 for ward 1
Number of full-time officers: not provided
Officers per 1,000 people: not provided
Average officer salary: not provided
Police department budget: $3,453,541
Percentage of revenue from fines and fees: 37.5 percent

Just next door to Edmundson is St. Ann, which enjoyed a relatively conflict-free election season. Mike Corcoran was re-elected, with 746 votes.

Vinita Terrace
Population: 278
Square mileage: 0.06
Voters: 147
Number of full-time officers: not provided
Officers per 1,000 people: not provided
Average officer salary: not provided
Police department budget: no recent data available (2012-13 law enforcement spending came to $90,965.84; the 2013-14 law enforcement budget was $100,500)

Three trustees, rather than a mayor, run the 278-person Village of Vinita Terrace. Five candidates ran for the three spots.

In December, the Missouri attorney general included the small town in a lawsuit claiming that 13 municipalities in St. Louis County had violated a law stating that no municipality can get more than 30 percent of its revenue from court fines and fees. The same day the lawsuit was filed, the village closed its court without any notice. The town has since been removed from the suit.

Pine Lawn
Square mileage: 0.61
Population: 3,425
Voters: 119 for ward 1; 87 for ward 2; 126 for ward 3; 119 for ward 4
Number of full-time officers: 11
Officers per 1,000 people: 4
Average officer salary: $39,520
Budget: $1,938,092
Percentage of revenue from fines and fees: 48.1 percent

Although Pine Lawn only has 11 full-time police officers, the town has remained a hub of corruption in St. Louis County. In 2013, the town had the equivalent of 7.3 pending arrest warrants per resident, according to The Washington Post.

Pine Lawn has over 3,000 residents, but only 451 people showed up to the polls on Tuesday.

The next election day in St. Louis County will be on Aug. 4, 2015, for special elections.

Figures for numbers of officers per 1,000 people have been rounded to the nearest whole number.

Also on HuffPost:

People of Ferguson
Suggest a correction
Comments

CONVERSATIONS