Ever notice how relatively congenial local elections are for city council and school board? If these races do spark fireworks, it is usually over an issue that merits a good debate.

Many people may never have noticed that these arenít partisan elections, meaning that candidates donít run with an ďRĒ or ďDĒ behind their name. And most voters donít think anything of it.

A bill that would move local elections from spring to fall ó which on its own isnít a bad idea ó also would make local elections partisan. That part is a big mistake.

Look around at the corrosive politics on the state and national level, and we find an extremely divisive environment that stems primarily from our political systemís extreme preoccupation with political party affiliation and allegiance. We donít need that on the local level. The business of electing officials and governing works just well without introducing partisan influences.

Moving these elections from the spring to the fall makes some sense. They arguably would gain more attention if positioned in the fall alongside state and congressional elections, when turnout is higher.

But making local elections partisan is a horrible idea. Itís the work of Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach, whose office helped draft the bill now pending in a House committee. Making it partisan completely changes the complexion of any potential primary race and thereby opens the door to special interests. Primary elections would be divided into Republican and Democrat contests rather than being run-off elections open to all voters.

Kobach testified that having some elections partisan and some not would be confusing to voters. Thatís preposterous and belittling to citizensí intellect. But if consistency really is Kobachís goal, then letís do this instead: Letís make the elections for county, state and Congress be nonpartisan like the local ones.

The politics of labels has been wholly destructive in Washington and Topeka. We donít need that in our communities.

ó The Hutchinson News