Leonard laments widespread apathy about local government

By Ralph Echtinaw

Many St. Louis residents have no knowledge or interest in city government, and that perplexes new Councilman Bill Leonard.

Leonard used his turn during council comments time Tuesday to talk about it: “Mister mayor, you made a comment when I was sitting in the audience (on Nov. 5, 2019) that we seem to have low turnout for voting. And in my short tenure (here) it’s amazing what I find. The great American public doesn’t have a clue what the council does, where the council’s at, who are the council members. It’s like everyone wants to go on their merry way, and whatever. I don’t know what to do about that. It’s just a hands-on, hands-off attitude. What do you do?

Bill Leonard


Kelly jumped in to say, “It’s a national problem, not unique to St. Louis. It’s sad but true.”

Leonard continued: “I guess I wasn’t ready for that. I thought more people would be interested, but uh uh. That’s all I have. I don’t know what to do about it.”

Voter turnout in last year’s Nov. 5 city council election was 9.68 percent.

As Kelly told high school students in council chambers at the time: “I don’t think we got 20 percent of the voters out today. That’s sad. When you get old enough to vote, please vote. Study. Listen to people. But get out and vote. It’s more important to be a voter than a Republican or Democrat. This council makes a lot of decisions for the city. We’re getting, what, 15 percent of the voters to vote? It’s sad that people don’t take it seriously. It’s important. Where did we lose that desire to vote? Get involved. If you get a chance, consider running for local office. It’s very rewarding. Any of the council will tell you. Once in a great while you have a problem you can’t fix and you lose sleep over it. But it’s only like once a year. Most of the time it’s very rewarding.”

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1 reply »

  1. I agree it’s very sad. In other places I have been, they will walk for days to vote. We have a great privilege and don’t use it. Proud to say, I have never missed in the 48 years except for one millage vote. I forgot it until polls closed.


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