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EDITORIAL: Municipal election day in Southern Nevada

The Las Vegas City Council race for Ward 2 has gotten particularly ugly, but the vitriol hasn’t translated into voter interest. Apathy has long represented the norm for local municipal elections.

With early voting wrapped, the turnout numbers are — predictably — abysmal. Fewer than 4 percent of registered Las Vegas voters cast ballots during the two-week window even though the election features one citywide judicial race.

The numbers were slightly higher in Henderson and North Las Vegas, but still extremely low. In Henderson, 4.6 percent of registered voters participated. In North Las Vegas, turnout in Ward 3 — the only seat on the ballot — stood at 6.7 percent.

The lone bright spot for fans of civic participation was Boulder City, where 22.7 percent of registered voters cast early ballots in a race that includes one at-large council seat and two initiatives.

Those who passed on early voting will have a last chance to vote tomorrow on the traditional Election Day. The dismal turnout figures mean those who do cast ballots wield outsized influence at the expense of those who don’t. The widespread disinterest also increases the potential for races to turn on just a handful of votes, meaning a single ballot or two may actually decide an election.

That could be the case in Las Vegas’s Ward 2, where incumbent Bob Beers, a former state lawmaker, faces Steve Seroka, a political newcomer and retired Air Force colonel.

The race has attracted thousands of dollars in outside money thanks to a vote Mr. Beers cast that angered several influential denizens of the wealthy Queensridge development. For weeks, Ward 2 residents have been inundated with mailers from third-party political action committees, most of them featuring nasty allegations.

Voters should ignore the negative noise. Mr. Beers has long been a champion of the taxpayer and a dependable check on bureaucratic excess. While Mr. Seroka’s long history of distinguished service would serve him well on the council, he offers no compelling reason for voters to dump the panel’s most ardent voice for fiscal responsibility. We urge a vote for Bob Beers.

In the two other races appearing on the Las Vegas ballot, we recommend Michele Fiore for the Ward 6 City Council seat and incumbent Judge Heidi Almase for Department 3 in Municipal Court.

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