County isn't pro or con, but some want a vote
Several members of the Buena Vista County Board of Supervisors want to take the issue of casino gambling before a vote of the public to decide... but without a petition calling for the election, it isn't going to happen.
There are also questions over how a special election would be funded should the board vote to put the matter of gambling before the county.
The issue came up informally earlier this week, as Supervisor Bill Lanphere asked whether or not the board could call for an election itself.
Storm Lake resident Cal Johnson circulated a petition to bring the issue of placing a casino boat on Storm Lake to a vote, and got all the signatures he needed, but then decided to drop the effort, citing in part a lack of support from local governments.
He told the Pilot-Tribune Friday that he will stick with his earlier decision to drop the matter and said that's where he stands.
Commissioner of Elections Karen Strawn told the Pilot-Tribune that the only method for putting a gaming question on a ballot is to have a petition filed with the county. Supervisors cannot declare an election on legalized gambling.
On Friday, three county supervisors said they would like to see a petition brought to the board.
Although he said he wasn't necessarily in favor of it or against it, Crampton said he'd like to see the county residents have a chance to vote on the gaming issue.
"I would be interested in bringing it to vote," Crampton said. "Just to get a feel for it, to see what the people want. I don't think I should be in the way of what the public wants."
Supervisor Jim Gustafson concurred with Crampton saying he thought the voters should have a chance to make their choices clear.
"The public has a right to vote on this," Gustafson said. "I don't favor or condemn it, but I do believe the people have a right to petition their government and to vote on issues such as this."
Lanphere said he too would like to see a petition brought to the board.
"I'm not pro or con, but I'm supportive of taking it to the voter," Lanphere said. "But our hands are tied until someone brings a petition before the board."
Supervisor Lorna Burnside also said she was neither pro nor con on the issue of gambling, feeling that the public could and should make up its own mind. But, she said, there is another issue at play.
"Who's going to pay for it?" she asked. "The last election we held cost $8,000 and we had nine voters turnout in Brooke. If we have a petition come to the board and we vote to have an election on the casino issue who's going to pay for it?"
Burnside said she didn't know at the present whether or not the county could hold a half-day election like the school board elections which would be cheaper.
"These are issues for the county attorney to grapple with," she said. "And right now, I'm not sure we have all the answers to all the questions."