Turnout was slim Tuesday at a forum for the 53rd District of the Missouri House. Only one candidate showed up to visit with a handful of voters.

The League of Women Voters had an army of volunteers on hand Tuesday night for a public forum at MCC-Blue River pitting Democrat Gary Thompson and Republican Brent Lasater, both candidates in the 53rd District of the Missouri House of Representatives.

The two would face one another in November’s general election if Thompson defeats Democrat incumbent Curt Dougherty in Tuesday’s primary election.

That’s the good news.

The bad?

Only a handful of prospective voters turned out. And only one candidate: Thompson. Dougherty declined the invitation, and Lasater was a no-show, citing back trouble.

According to Margie Richcreek, who moderated the event, the League of Women Voters cannot host a forum unless at least two candidates are present.

Thompson used the opportunity to speak before the sparse crowd.

“I’m a Christian, father, husband and I’m an American,” Thompson said. “That’s how I make my decisions, and that’s how I live my life.”

Thompson then touched on some key issues, including his thoughts on education, health care and Lafarge North America’s blasting near the Cedar Crest neighborhood (he favors the homeowners’ position in opposition to the mining). Afterwards, Thompson met with those in attendance, greeting everyone with “Hi, I’m Gary Thompson.”

It was easy for Thompson to shake hands with just about everyone there.

As a member of the League of Women Voters for more than 20 years, Pauline Testerman has participated in a lot of public forums through the years.

“It was a very low turnout, and I’m really disappointed,” said Testerman, who lives in eastern Independence, which is a part of the 53rd District.