Jefferson City voters approve $44 million in sewer bonds on April 5

Jefferson City voters approved the only question on their ballot by 85% to 15% on April 5. The measure authorized the city to issue $44 million in revenue bonds for sewer system improvements, maintenance, and operations. The Jefferson City Council referred a bond measure to the ballot.

A municipal revenue bond is debt security used by a city that must be repaid through a specific source of revenue—usually through a charge or fee for a service directly related to the capital improvements funded by the bond issue.

In 2022, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S. and all state capitals. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities and all statewide ballot measures

Ballotpedia’s 2022 local ballot measure coverage in Missouri includes St. Louis, Kansas City, and Jefferson City. St. Louis voters approved Proposition 1—a $50 million bond issue—and Proposition R—a citizen initiative concerning redistricting, elections, and conflicts of interest on April 5. Kansas City voters approved three local measures: a bond issue, a property tax renewal, and a measure concerning the removal of certain property from the city’s park system.

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D.C. voters to decide whether to increase the minimum wage for tipped workers in November

On April 6, the D.C. Board of Elections announced that the campaign behind Initiative 82, which would increase the minimum wage for tipped workers, submitted 27,026 valid signatures—enough to qualify for the ballot. The campaign had originally targeted the June primary ballot, but with a delay during the signature verification process the board missed the deadline to refer it to the primary ballot, pushing it to the November ballot.

The signature verification delay was related to the District’s distribution requirement that stipulates that signatures must be collected from 5% of registered voters in five of the eight city wards. Election officials said the delay was caused by random sampling issues and recent ward redistricting.

Adam Eidinger, a campaign organizer for Initiative 82, said, “We’re excited that we’re qualifying for the ballot, but there’s a huge concern with our campaign that we played by the rules. We submitted the signatures on time to qualify for the primary ballot.” The campaign submitted 34,000 raw signatures on Feb. 22. 

Initiative 82 is also facing a lawsuit filed in March by a local bartender, Valerie Graham, who is challenging the validity of some of the signatures. The Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington has also come out in opposition to the measure and plans on challenging its certification.

Initiative 82 would incrementally increase the minimum wage for tipped employees from its current level of $5.05 to match the minimum wage of non-tipped employees in 2027. As of July 1, 2021, the minimum wage for non-tipped employees was $15.20. In 2018, voters passed a ballot measure, Initiative 77, to increase the minimum wage for tipped employees. The D.C. Council voted 8-5 to repeal Initiative 77 on Oct. 16, 2018.

Initiative 82 has received support from One Fair Wage, National Employment Law Project, Open Society Policy Center, and Democratic Socialists of America (DC Metro area).

School board elections taking place across nine Missouri school districts in April 2022

A total of 18 school board seats across nine Missouri school districts covered by Ballotpedia are up for nonpartisan general election on April 5, 2022, one of which is up for a special election to a one-year term. Of the 52 candidates running in these contests, nine (17.3%) are incumbents running for re-election. Races in four of the nine districts have no incumbents running. 

The figures above do not include two at-large seats up for election on the St. Louis Public Schools Board of Education, for which a general election will be held on Nov. 8, 2022.

The Missouri school boards for which elections are being held on April 5 include the Center School District, Grandview C-4 School District, Hickman Mills C-1 School District, Liberty Public Schools, North Kansas City Schools, Park Hill School District, Platte County R-III School District, Raytown C-2 School District, and St. Joseph School District.

In 2021, Ballotpedia tracked elections for 27 seats across 11 Missouri school boards in which 59 candidates ran, including 21 incumbents. Incumbents ran in all but one of these contests and won re-election 57.1% of the time. In four school districts all incumbents won re-election and in five districts at least one incumbent won and one incumbent lost. No incumbents won re-election in two districts.

In 2022, Ballotpedia is tracking elections for over 1,000 school board seats across 39 states and Washington, D.C. As of April 5, this includes 12 school board recall elections.

Federal Register weekly update: 576 documents added

The Federal Register is a daily journal of federal government activity that includes presidential documents, proposed and final rules, and public notices. It is a common measure of an administration’s regulatory activity, accounting for both regulatory and deregulatory actions.

From March 21 through March 25, the Federal Register grew by 1,302 pages for a year-to-date total of 17,140 pages.

The Federal Register hit an all-time high of 95,894 pages in 2016.

This week’s Federal Register featured the following 576 documents:

  • 454 notices
  • Four presidential documents
  • 66 proposed rules
  • 52 final rules

Three proposed rules, including an amendment to regulations to update the Department of Defense (DOD) Commercial Air Transportation Quality and Safety Review Program from the Air Force Department, and three final rules, including an amendment to the International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR) from the State Department were deemed significant under E.O. 12866—defined by the potential to have large impacts on the economy, environment, public health, or state or local governments. Significant actions may also conflict with presidential priorities or other agency rules. The Biden administration has issued 41 significant proposed rules, 54 significant final rules, and zero significant notices as of March 25.

Ballotpedia maintains page counts and other information about the Federal Register as part of its Administrative State Project. The project is a neutral, nonpartisan encyclopedic resource that defines and analyzes the administrative state, including its philosophical origins, legal and judicial precedents, and scholarly examinations of its consequences. The project also monitors and reports on measures of federal government activity.

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Hall Pass: Your Ticket to Understanding School Board Politics, Edition #6

Welcome to Hall Pass. This newsletter keeps you plugged into the conversations driving school board politics and governance. Each week, we bring you a roundup of the latest on school board elections, along with sharp commentary and research from across the political spectrum on the issues confronting school boards in the country’s 14,000 school districts. We’ll also bring you the latest on school board elections and recall efforts, including candidate filing deadlines and election results.

In today’s edition, you’ll find:

  • On the issues: The debate over parental access to teaching materials
  • School board filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications
  • An update on school board recall efforts
  • Candidate Connection survey

On the issues

In this section, we curate reporting, analysis, and commentary on the issues school board members deliberate when they set out to offer the best education possible in their district.

The debate over parental access to teaching materials

One debate currently playing out in legislatures and school districts is whether schools should have to post curriculum and teacher training materials online. For example, on March 14, the Arizona State Senate passed SB 1211, a bill that would require schools to post curriculum and classroom activities online. The bill now goes to the House for consideration. 

Below, Christopher Rufo, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and director of the Institute’s initiative on critical race theory, writes that parents should be able to see what public schools teach their children. Rufo says parental access to curricular materials is especially important on issues like race, gender and sex, and political ideology. 

Natalie Wexler, a senior contributor at Forbes, writes that the lack of published curriculum online does not indicate schools and school districts are hiding politically charged teaching materials. Wexler says teachers rarely rely on a set curriculum, so it is difficult to share their materials with parents. Wexler says greater reliance on curriculum could improve learning outcomes, but transparency bills on controversial topics could disincentivize the use of curriculum. 

The Fight for Curriculum Transparency | Christopher Rufo, City Journal

“The case for curriculum transparency rests on an irrefutable moral argument: parents have the right to know what the government is teaching their children. Parents are not only taxpayers but also the primary stakeholders in the public education system. Approximately 90 percent of American families entrust their children’s education to public schools. That system’s minimum responsibility is to provide accurate, timely, and comprehensive information about the curriculum—especially as it relates to sensitive and controversial topics such as race, gender, identity, and political ideology. The recent parent backlash underscores the importance of transparency. Millions of American families feel that the public schools are working against their values. Transparency legislation is the bare minimum for public schools to start rebuilding trust with these families.”

We Need ‘Curriculum Transparency,’ But Not The Kind Some State Bills Would Require | Natalie Wexler, Forbes

“[M]ost state education officials are clueless about what materials are actually being used in school districts. Local district officials often don’t know what materials are being used in school buildings. Even principals may be unclear about what teachers are using in the classroom down the hall. And teachers themselves may not know what materials they’ll be using in class until the night before. Clearly that would make it difficult, if not impossible, to post ‘curriculum’ online. … If curriculum transparency is reduced to a vehicle for challenges to supposedly offensive or divisive texts, schools may shy away from including any content in their curricula. They’ll stick with or return to an ELA [English language arts] curriculum that consists of the usual round of ‘comprehension skills’ and doesn’t specify any content whatsoever.”

School board update: filing deadlines, election results, and recall certifications

Ballotpedia has historically covered school board elections in about 500 of the country’s largest districts. We’re gradually expanding the number we cover with our eye on all of the roughly 14,000 districts with elected school boards.

States with school board filing deadlines in the next 30 days   

April 15

Upcoming school board elections

Districts in the following states will hold general school board elections on April 5:

  • Alaska
  • Arkansas
  • Oklahoma
  • Missouri
  • Wisconsin 

We’ll preview those elections in more detail in our next issue

We’re covering one school board recall election in the next 30 days. The March 29 recall is against Tim Stentiford, one of the 12 members of the Regional School Unit 21 school board in Maine. 

Recall supporters listed a loss of teachers in the district, increased spending on human resources, and the lack of a school board curriculum committee as reasons for the recall. The affidavit to recall LeBlanc said his “role in negotiating the most recent teachers contract and its impact on staff attrition, the failure to seat a curriculum committee and a failure in executive leadership by allowing teachers, parents and community members to be bullied and admonished in public meetings, has caused a loss of confidence in his ability to perform the duties and responsibilities of the office.”

Stentiford had not responded to the recall effort. However, board Chair Art LeBlanc, whom recall supporters tried unsuccessfully to include in the recall effort, said on Nov. 23, 2021:

“The Board’s goals are to provide a high quality public education, to be leaders in our state and nation academically, and to ensure that our staff receive competitive salaries and benefits. We are proud of the concrete and undeniable steps that the district has taken in the past two years to support our employees during the pandemic, to move our salary scales in a meaningful manner, and provide for the health and safety of our students and employees. Members of the Board are aware that there is a well-organized group that meet regularly and seem focused on discrediting the work of the Board and the administration for political gain. Despite the efforts of this group to cast doubt on the Board’s commitment to our motives, the Board will remain steadfast in its commitment to support our students and employees.”

Read more about this recall here

School board candidates per seat up for election

For the 204 school board races we are covering whose filing deadlines have passed, an average of 2.19 candidates are running for each seat.

This year’s school board recall elections so far

According to our year-end recall analysis, we tracked more recall efforts in 2021 than any other year since we began compiling recall data in 2012. Notably, for the first time since we began tracking recalls, school board members faced more recalls than any other office type. 

So far this year, we’ve tracked 28 recall efforts against 69 school board officials—the highest number of recalls across all officials (city council members were next, with 57 officials named in recalls). 

Six school board recalls have gone to a vote this year against 11 officials. Of those eleven officials, four were successfully recalled from office.

Looking ahead, Tim Stentiford, discussed above, will face a recall on March 29. Recall efforts in Nevada, California, Michigan, New Jersey, and elsewhere are currently underway, meaning that recall supporters have filed with the relevant election office but are waiting for petitions to be approved, circulating petitions, or waiting for signatures to be verified. We’ll keep you updated on those efforts, and any new efforts that come up each week. 

Here’s where we’ve tracked recall efforts this year:

In 2021, California accounted for almost 30% of the country’s school board recall elections. 

Twenty-three states allow for the recall of school board members.

Six of the states that allow school board recalls require specific grounds to be met in order for a recall effort to move forward, such as malfeasance or misfeasance in office. The number of signatures required to get a school board recall on the ballot varies by state. Common factors for calculating the signature requirement include the size of the board member’s jurisdiction and the number of votes cast in a previous election. In all but one of the states, recall elections are held if enough signatures are collected. Virginia is the exception. If enough signatures are collected in that state, a trial is held at the circuit court level.

The amount of time recall petitions are allowed to be circulated also varies by state. Georgia, Nebraska, and North Carolina have the shortest petition circulation time with 30 days. Out of the states that have a time limit for circulating petitions, Washington has the longest with 180 days. New Mexico, North Dakota, Tennessee, and Virginia do not have a time limit for petition circulation

Take our Candidate Connection survey to reach voters in your district

Everyone deserves to know their candidates. However, we know it can be hard for voters to find information about their candidates, especially for local offices such as school boards. That’s why we created Candidate Connection—a survey designed to help candidates tell voters about their campaigns, their issues, and so much more. 

In the 2020 election cycle, 4,745 candidates completed the survey. 

If you’re a school board candidate or incumbent, click here to take the survey.

The survey contains over 30 questions, and you can choose the ones you feel will best represent your views to voters. If you complete the survey, a box with your answers will display on your Ballotpedia profile. Your responses will also populate the information that appears in our mobile app, My Vote Ballotpedia.

And if you’re not running for school board, but there is an election in your community this year, share the link with the candidates and urge them to take the survey!

Voters in Belleair, Florida, approve charter amendment to require a unanimous town commission vote to abolish municipal and police detriments

Voters in Belleair, Florida, approved a charter amendment to require an unanimous vote of the town commission to abolish a municipal department. The charter amendment also requires a unanimous vote, which must be done by ordinance, to abolish the police department. The ballot measure required that actions to abolish the police department be passed by ordinance so that residents could have the option to file a veto referendum. With 100% of precincts reporting, the vote was 1,249 (80.48%) in favor and 303 (19.52%) against.

On Dec. 7, 2021, the Belleair Town Commission voted 5-0 to refer the charter amendment to the ballot for March 15, 2022. Town Manager J.P. Murphy stated, “A few years ago, when the town was going through its strategic planning process, putting some additional protections in for the police department in terms of having the voters being able to opine on the matter should we decide to get rid of the police department was an item identified by the commission.”

In 2022, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest cities in the U.S., all state capitals, and all local California jurisdictions. Ballotpedia is also covering a selection of notable police-related and election-related measures outside of the top 100 largest cities.

In 2020 and 2021, Ballotpedia tracked 32 notable local police-related ballot measures. In 2020, voters approved 20 local police-related ballot measures in 10 cities and four counties within seven states. In 2021, voters approved seven of 12 local police-related ballot measures in 10 cities and one county within nine states.

The next local policing-related ballot measure that Ballotpedia is covering is the Austin, Texas, Marijuana Decriminalization and Prohibit No-Knock Warrants Initiative, which will be decided on May 7, 2022.

Additional reading:

Twenty-four top 100 cities holding mayoral elections in 2022

Twenty-four of the 100 largest U.S. cities by population are holding mayoral elections in 2022. In 15 of those cities, the incumbent is a Democrat. Five incumbents are Republicans, one is independent, and three are nonpartisan.

Two of those cities hold partisan elections, and the rest hold nonpartisan elections. In cities where mayoral elections are nonpartisan, Ballotpedia uses one or more of the following sources to identify each officeholder’s partisan affiliation: (1) direct communication from the officeholder, (2) current or previous candidacy for partisan office, or (3) identification of partisan affiliation by multiple media outlets.

Currently, the partisan breakdown of the mayors of the top 100 cities is 62 Democrats, 26 Republicans, four independents, and seven nonpartisans. One mayor has not responded to inquiries about his partisan affiliation.

In 2021, 28 of the top 100 cities held mayoral elections, and two offices changed partisan control: one as a result of an election, and one as the result of a mayor switching parties. Once mayors elected in 2021 assumed office, the mayors of 63 of the country’s 100 largest cities were affiliated with the Democratic Party, 26 were Republicans, four were independent, six were nonpartisan, and one was unknown. Ahead of the 2022 election cycle, Ballotpedia updated our list of top 100 cities based on data from the 2020 census, swapping out Birmingham, Alabama, which had a Democratic mayor at the time, and San Bernardino, California, with a Republican mayor, for Santa Clarita, California, with a Republican mayor, and Spokane, Washington, with a nonpartisan mayor.

Ballotpedia provides comprehensive coverage of elections on the ballot in America’s 100 largest cities by population each year, along with elections in counties that overlap with them. We also cover elections for mayors, city council members, and district attorneys in each state capital. Eleven state capitals are holding mayoral elections in 2022, including eight capitals that fall outside of the top 100 cities. In nine of those 11 capitals, the incumbent is a Democrat, and two incumbents are Republicans.

Previewing Milwaukee’s April 5 special mayoral election

The city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is holding a special general election for mayor on April 5, 2022. Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Robert Donovan advanced from a February 15 primary with 42% and 22% of the vote, respectively. Seven candidates ran.

The special election was called after Mayor Tom Barrett resigned on Dec. 22, 2021, to become the U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. Wisconsin Public Radio’s Corrinne Hess wrote the special election “could mean a historic change for Milwaukee. Wisconsin’s largest city could have its first elected Black mayor, or with Donovan, have a conservative leader for the first time.”

The office is officially nonpartisan. Johnson said he is a Democrat. When Donovan ran for mayor in 2016, a campaign spokesman described him as independent. When asked in February 2022 if he thought Milwaukee would elect a conservative mayor, Donovan said, “I think the times are to the point where people are open to looking at some changes.”

Johnson first joined the Milwaukee Common Council in 2016 and was elected council president by his peers in 2020. Johnson says he has personally experienced the city’s struggles with violence and crime. Johnson emphasizes his public safety plan, which he says is comprehensive and includes measures to prevent violence. Johnson said he led on securing funds for 200 additional police officers. He criticized Donovan’s public safety plan as being outdated.

Donovan served on the council from 2000 to 2020. He lost the 2016 mayoral election to Barrett 30% to 70%. Donovan has discussed his 20 years on the council and his past chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee and the Anti-Graffiti Policy Committee. Donovan has highlighted his public safety plan, including increasing police staffing and foot and bicycle patrols, and criticized Johnson by saying the city experienced its worst bout of violence during Johnson’s time as council president.

The city charter states the council president serves as acting mayor in the event of a vacancy.

Ballotpedia is covering 32 mayoral elections in 2022—24 in the 100 largest U.S. cities by population and eight in state capitals falling outside the 100 largest cities. At the start of this year, 62 of the 100 largest cities’ mayors were Democrats, 26 were Republicans, and 11 were independent or nonpartisan. One mayor’s affiliation was unknown.

Additional reading:

Voters in Augusta, Maine will decide on one bond question on March 22

Voters in Augusta, Maine will decide whether to authorize the city to issue $4,455,000 in bonds to fund capital improvements to fire services, city streets, and city facilities on March 22. 

The city charter authorizes the Augusta City Council to borrow up to $750,000 without voter approval. Anything greater must be submitted to voters for approval.

The Augusta City Council voted to refer the bond measure to the ballot on Jan. 20, 2022, by a vote of 6-0. At the same meeting, councilors also approved $750,000 in bonds for rescue equipment and other infrastructure projects. The total bond project was $5.2 million.

A majority vote is required to approve the bond measure.

City Councilor Linda Conti said, “I want to say to everybody who hates to borrow money, because I hate to borrow money too, that this is an investment in the city and we have a great credit rating, so don’t be afraid. This is not something we lightly undertake, and we need to do this.”

In 2021, Augusta voters approved a bond measure that authorized the city to issue up to $20,477,655 in bonds to fund land acquisition for the construction of a police station. It was approved with 84.35% of the vote.

On election day, polls will be open from 7:00 am to 8:00 pm. Absentee ballots can be submitted until 8:00 pm on election day.

In 2022, Ballotpedia is covering local measures that appear on the ballot for voters within the top 100 largest U.S. cities and state capitals, such as Augusta, Maine, and throughout the state of California.

Additional reading:

What’s happening with recalls so far in 2022?

So far in 2022, Ballotpedia has tracked 103 recall efforts against 177 officials. School board members saw the most recall efforts started against them in 2022, continuing a trend that started in 2021. A total of 67 school board members have been included in recall efforts this year. City council members saw the second-most with 48, and county commissioners saw the third-most with 29. City council members drew the most recall petitions from 2016 to 2020.

Recall efforts against 57 officials have been related to COVID-19 or government responses to the pandemic in 2022, which accounts for 32.2% of officials included in recall efforts. In 2021, that percentage was 39.8% of officials, and it was 29.6% of officials in 2020.

Recall elections against 14 officials have been held so far this year. The recalls against six of those officials were approved by voters, removing them from office, while eight officials had their recalls rejected, keeping them in office. Recall elections against another 10 officials are scheduled to be held between March and June 2022. 

The 24 recall elections that have been held or scheduled for the first half of 2022 are higher than the 21 recall elections that were held between January and June 2021. In the first half of that year, nine officials were removed from office in recall elections, while 12 were retained. The first half of 2020 saw recall elections against 27 officials on the ballot. Thirteen of those officials were removed from office, and 14 kept their seats.

The following recall elections are scheduled to be held in March 2022:

  • March 22: Yamhill County Commission, Oregon
  • March 29: Regional School Unit 21, Maine

Additional reading: