Q: Dear Ask Us,
As you may or may not know, all of the houses on Glenwood Avenue between Locust Street and Monks Avenue are on the south side of the street and the trail is on the north side. What you might not recognize is, there are no crosswalks to get to the other side. So, for those people living on this stretch of Glenwood Avenue, who want to take a walk with kids or go for a jog, bike ride, etc., they have to brave the Mankato Crosstown/Glenwood Highway — where nobody drives the speed limit — to get across.
I find this grossly unacceptable. I have lived on Glenwood for almost 20 years, and have repeatedly asked the city to extend the south sidewalk to Monks Avenue, so we can at least cross the street there at the crosswalk. Nobody is listening, nobody cares. ... It has fallen on deaf ears and I am hoping my question to “Ask Us” is heard and we can ask the city/city manager to do something about this safety issue. Either way, we have no crosswalk anywhere on this stretch of Glenwood Avenue and I would like that fixed. Thanks in advance for your time.
A: The concern has been heard, according to Mankato city officials.
Although the request for an extension of the southside sidewalk to Monks Avenue doesn’t appear likely, plans are being developed for a crosswalk to allow residents along the lower portion of Glenwood to more safely reach the long trail on the north side of the scenic avenue.
The questions still being decided are where to place the crosswalk and what type to install — the standard low-tech crossing with paint and signs or the pedestrian-activated flashing crosswalk, said City Manager Susan Arntz. As for location, it’s made a bit tricky by the curvy nature of the treelined street.
“A mid-block crossing on a curve is not a perfect solution,” Arntz said.
Video surveillance of the area will help determine pedestrian behavior, which will help decide the best location.
The good news is that the goal is to put the crosswalk in as soon as next summer when construction crews will be working nearby on Warren Street.
This, by the way, is the Ask Us column debut for Arntz, who actually went out and looked at the stretch of Glenwood before calling back with the answer.
“I did have to go out and drive it so I knew what I was talking about,” said Arntz, who became the new city manager Nov. 30.
Q: Dear Mr. Ask Us Guy,
Why does the state of Georgia have their Senate and House elections in January (today) when all the other states in America have theirs in November?
A: This question arrived last Tuesday, of course, when everyone’s attention was on the two Senate elections in Georgia that would determine whether the Democrats or the Republicans controlled the U.S. Senate.
The premise of the questions is actually wrong in one way. Georgia held all of its congressional elections — House and Senate — on Nov. 3 just like all of the other states. All of Georgia’s 14 House elections were decided by that election.
The Senate races were not decided, however, because Georgia is one of about 10 states — mostly in the South — that don’t have plurality voting. Plurality voting is when the person who gets the most votes wins.
Georgia and the other nine states, by contrast, require that a candidate get the most votes and also that they get a majority of the votes. That’s not necessarily the same thing if there are three or more candidates in the race.
For example, suppose Ray, Otis and Gladys were running for office. In the Nov. 3 election, Ray gets 45% of the vote, Otis receives 20% and Gladys picks up 35%. Even though Ray got the most votes, he didn’t break the 50% requirement. So a runoff election would be held under Georgia law with Otis eliminated and Ray and Gladys facing off. Since there are only two candidates on the runoff ballot, one of them has to get to 50%.
On Nov. 3, Republican Sen. David Perdue beat Democratic challenger Jon Ossoff 49.7% to 48% with Libertarian Shane Hazel getting 2.3%, so Perdue nearly won outright two months ago — coming up short by just .03% of hitting the second threshold required by Georgia law. On Tuesday, Ossoff won 50.5% to Perdue’s 49.5%.
The other race in Georgia was a special election. Republican Sen. Kelly Loeffler had been appointed rather than elected to her seat after the previous senator resigned mid-term for health reasons. That meant Loeffler had to face voters in the next general election to hold the seat for the remainder of the term. In her case, 19 candidates — including five other Republicans — challenged her. On Nov. 3, Democrat Raphael Warnock picked up 32.9% and Loeffler finished second with 25.9%, so they advanced to last week’s runoff election with Warnock winning with 50.9% of the vote.
There are different stories about why some states, which get to set their own election rules under the U.S. Constitution, decided to require runoff elections when no one reaches 50%. One explanation is that it promotes good government by favoring candidates with broad enough support to get a majority — not just a plurality — of the votes.
Another theory is that the system was favored by segregationists aiming to make it harder for a minority group of voters to win an elected office by rallying around a single candidate in races where the majority group happened to be split between two or more other candidates.
Contact Ask Us at The Free Press, P.O Box 3287, Mankato, MN 56002. Call Mark Fischenich at 344-6321 or email your question to firstname.lastname@example.org; put Ask Us in the subject line.