If you read this article by Lindsey McPherson in The Flier or this article by Larry Carson in The Sun you might get the impression that Mary Kay Sigaty’s victory in the primary had nothing to do with the redevelopment of Columbia Town Center. You could easily be forgiven for getting the impression that people voted for her despite the work she did to insure that the community interest was well represented in the heavily amended legislation. Three of the four voters that Lindsey McPherson quoted in her story were Alan Klein supporters. Larry Carson wrote that “many voters picked both popular incumbents, and did not vote on the Columbia issue.”
I think both reporters missed the key point of voter turnout. Most loco politico prognosticators believed that a low voter turnout strongly favored Alan Klein. The belief was that those opposed to Columbia’s Town Center redevelopment would be heavily motivated to get out and vote while supporters, believing that the legislation was already a done deal, would be somewhat less so. I was one of many loco politico watchers who believed a low turnout would be bad news for Mary Kay.
It was a historically low turn out, ergo, advantage Klein.
It didn’t turn out that way. Even with this seemingly big advantage, Mary Kay still garnered over 60% of the vote.
According to Larry, Alan Klein believed “"An awful lot of people didn't know what the issue was."
That’s extremely doubtful. Voters who tend to turn out for primaries are generally more informed than voters in a general election. Columbia Town Center redevelopment has been a top local story for the past three years. It has been endlessly debated in the papers, the pubs, the coffee shops, churches and blogs. If anything, this issue suffered from overexposure.
The truth is, the community and the developer, after years of negotiations and public input, crafted a good plan. Now they are simply ready to get on with it and nobody was buying what Alan and Liz Bobo tried to sell.
Alan and CoFoDoCo were completely repudiated in this election. Liz spent a good deal of her political capital on a dog that just won’t hunt.