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St. Louis schools and four mayoral races top Midwest election list. Incumbent mayors appear to be shoo-ins in their respective cities

By Lucia MouatStaff writer of The Christian Science Monitor / October 29, 1985



Chicago

St. Louis has an important school bond issue on the Nov. 5th ballot, and four major cities in Minnesota, Michigan, and Ohio will elect mayors. Yet despite the Indian summer in these parts, the voter turnout is expected to be very slim. In each of the mayoral elections a veteran mayor who has attracted little credible opposition is standing for reelection.

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Political experts say a general lack of interest may be partly due to the fact that the economy has improved and many of the sharpest cuts in urban spending have already been made.

Some analysts also blame the press for not covering the opposition and then lamenting the lack of a good contest. Following is a wrapup of these contests: St. Louis

Students in the St. Louis public schools have a lot riding on the outcome of next Tuesday's election.

The only issue on the ballot is an uncommonly high ($155 million), but otherwise routinely familiar, school bond issue.

School officials have tried seven times since 1962 to get voters to say ``yes'' to more dollars to repair everything from leaky roofs to worn-out plumbing. But never have there been enough votes to meet Missouri's unusually stiff two-thirds approval requirement.

This time officials seem to be taking a now-or-never approach.

City government and business leaders are united behind the effort. Recently reelected Mayor Vincent Schoemehl who had taken a hands-off approach in the past, now makes an almost daily appearance somewhere on the schools' behalf.

He and others remind voters that the city is booming -- with its new Rouse Company renovation of Union Station (a former train station), and the opening of the country's largest downtown shopping mall. The schools must keep pace, they reason.

``All kinds of things are happening but the schools aren't -- they're in deplorable shape,'' says school system spokeswoman Marge Polcyn. She says the courts will probably have to step in if the measure doesn't pass this time.

``It very much becomes an age and race issue in St. Louis,'' notes E. Terrence Jones, a University of Missouri political scientist.

Older, disproportionately white voters on fixed incomes from the city's South Side are being asked to help a predominantly black school system.

Polls indicate the vote will be close. ``There are enough `yes' votes out there if they all get to the polls,'' says Ed Bushmeyer, a press aide to Mayor Schoemehl who expects the issue to pass or fail by less than 1,000 votes. Minneapolis and St. Paul

Minnesota has two major mayoral elections coming up.

In Minneapolis, Mayor Don Fraser, a liberal Democrat and former Congressman, seeks a third term. A low-key leader, Mayor Fraser is generally considered a good manager. Chosen to oppose him by a record-low 9.4 percent voter turnout in the primary is Roger Jensen who describes himself as a Republican and a private investigator.

Mr. Jensen is not endorsed by the district's Independent-Republican Party and has said his main campaign activity was really just mowing his lawn and painting his house.

Next door in St. Paul, veteran Mayor George Latimer, a past president of the National League of Cities, also faces only token opposition.

``They're both very popular mayors,'' notes Carleton College political scientist Steven Schier, who says he would ``bet the farm'' that both Minnesota incumbents will win. Cleveland

Over in Ohio Mayor George Voinovich of Cleveland, a Republican who took over when the city was in dire financial straits, now seeks a third term. He will face Democrat Gary Kucinich, a city councilman, former physical education instructor, and younger brother of one-time Cleveland Mayor Dennis Kucinich.

Gary Kucinich is not nearly as fiery or controversial as his brother. But Cleveland State University political scientist Ronald Busch says Dennis Kucinich routinely had the support of about one-third of the city's voters and that his brother will pick up some of that because of his name. Still, Dr. Busch predicts a ``landslide'' for Voinovich that will increase with the size of the turnout. ``It would be a personal victory for Gary if he got as much as 40 percent.'' Detroit

In Detroit, Mayor Coleman Young, who has been in office 12 years, is running for a fourth term. His opponent is Thomas Barrow, president of a minority-owned accounting firm and nephew of late boxer Joe Louis.

Mayor Young, who got more than 60 percent of the primary vote and is campaigning with the help of a mammoth $2.5 million warchest, has vowed he will delegate more authority during his coming term so he can spend more time trying to attract developers to the city.

Is there any likelihood of an upset? ``It would certainly rank well above Truman's defeat of Dewey,'' says Wayne State University political scientist Richard Elling.