Barely more than 10 percent of eligible voters went to the polls for this week's Oklahoma City Public Schools bond election, but Mayor Mick Cornett said approval of the bond package indicates that the city is moving forward. The four bond proposals, worth $248.3 million, will be used to pay for improvements in school facilities, technology, transportation and security. In addition to helping schools, Cornett said the approval will benefit the city as a whole. "It does sing loudly about how united we are as a community, and I think it'd be very appropriate right now for our economic development people to compare our support for our inner-city school system with what other (cities do),” he said. "I think that can make a difference for us long-term. Cornett also said he was overwhelmed by how well the bond issues did. Each passed with about 80 percent of the votes.
Who voted no?Not everyone supported the school bonds. "I was one of the people that voted no. As a homeowner, I voted against it,” said Robert Mulcahy, an author and retired FBI special agent. "How many people did the board of education get to vote? To me it looks like a rigged deal to start with. They've got over 11,000 people that work for the school district.” Each of the four propositions passed with 11,000 to 11,200 votes in favor and about 3,000 votes against. That means 10.8 percent of eligible voters, or about 14,200 people, cast votes in the special election, said Doug Sanderson, secretary of the county's election board. "It's right within the range with what we see for special elections,” he said. That doesn't surprise resident Jan Lovell. "It's a typical number, and I would call that disappointing,” said Lovell, who said he is not affiliated with the school district and supported the bond package. "I think the Oklahoma City School District, which had some severe problems a few years ago and still has some serious remaining problems, has been correcting some of those problems, and I'd like to see that continue.”
Finding the fundingLovell said he is afraid that Americans don't recognize the importance of supporting education so that those who go to the polls can make educated decisions. "I think (special elections) just simply hinge on people's fear of taxes, and I think when people vote negatively that is generally why — or they haven't bothered to understand the issue,” he said. "The loss of faith in government we're facing now is a major problem.” But Mulcahy expressed skepticism about whether districts spend wisely. Still, Cornett said citizens should expect that schools always will need bonds to operate. "I think the voters need to assume that this is the funding source,” he said. "Schools are not something you fund once in a while.”