Many people may never have noticed that these aren’t partisan elections, meaning that candidates don’t run with an “R” or “D” behind their name. And most voters don’t think anything of it.
A bill that would move local elections from spring to fall — which on its own isn’t a bad idea — 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 system’s extreme preoccupation with political party affiliation and allegiance. We don’t 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. It’s 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. That’s preposterous and belittling to citizens’ intellect. But if consistency really is Kobach’s goal, then let’s do this instead: Let’s 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 don’t need that in our communities.
— The Hutchinson News