For the second time, voters are rejecting the City of Yelm park bond, with 49 voting for it and 51 percent voting against it. The measure needed a supermajority of 60 percent to pass.
The numbers remained the same in the latest ballot count.
According to the latest ballot count 6 p.m. Wednesday, 58,083 ballots have been counted, according to the Thurston County Auditor's Office. There are approximately 12,000 ballots left to count. The next ballot count is 5 p.m. Nov. 7. Voter turnout is 36 percent.
Yelm Mayor Ron Harding said while there are still many ballots left to be counted, the measure doesn’t look like it will pass. He said that was disappointing, as much because of the low voter turnout on an issue of such importance to the community as for the results themselves.
“This is why we do these votes like this, is to gauge the desire of the community and I think based on that we’ll try to regroup and look for a Plan B,” he said.
Harding said the city council will try to evaluate what kind of park upgrades they can supply with money they’ve already secured.
“I think at this point what we’ll do is probably convene a workgroup, maybe of some community members and staff and probably just step back and say, what are our options, how can we best put the limited number of dollars we have to the best use for the community, and what does that look like?” he said. “I don’t want to take anything off the table.”
Local blogger Steve Klein, who wrote the voter’s pamphlet statement against the measure, said he was disappointed by the low voter turnout.
“Regardless of the decision, we have a lesson of consequence, both for those that voted for it and against it, because we have such low voter participation,” he said. “Nobody has to blame anybody but the lack of participation in voting here. This is a very poor turnout for an issue that … if it would have won, or if it does win eventually, that is going to tax people for 25 years. This is a very, very low voter turnout, 10 percent of the total population of this area deciding for the whole area. That’s disheartening.”
Klein said one of his main criticisms of the city — that it didn’t engage the public enough while planning for the measure — may be part of the reason voter turnout was so low.
“The city says that they had public input,” he said. “No, they didn’t. They had a couple of public hearings in city hall. That’s not enough to educate the public.”
Klein said if the city puts the measure back on the ballot, he’d like to see the city form a committee of public volunteers to create a forum to educate people on the issue and gather public input.