Keeping Party ID, ending at-large posts, good moves for local government elections

legisIn 1994, there was a national and statewide wave that swept all kinds of Democrats out of office an put all kinds of Republican novices into power.  For decades, judges had been running statewide in partisan races.  Until 1994, that was a great idea.  After the smoke cleared following that Democrat massacre, it became a bad idea.

Republicans held the NC House from 1994-1998.  The partisan split in the House remained close through 2002 — when Richard Morgan and his crew of RINOs formed an alliance with the Democrats.  That year, Democrats pushed through legislation making judicial races non-partisan.

Clearly, voters were seeing judges with Rs next to their names as tougher on crime — and the Democrats and their trial lawyer allies could not have that. Since the transition to non-partisan races, candidates appear to be winning judicial races by being listed FIRST on the ballot.  How is that for picking candidates for some of our most important governmental positions? 

partyMany school board and city council races are non-partisan and at-large.  The drivebys give very little coverage to these races, and voters have very little to go on when they go to the polls.  At-large seats allow people from one part of a county to saddle another part of a county with representation.  At-large seats are quite beneficial, quite handy, for practitioners of good old-fashioned machine politics.

Granted, there are plenty of politicos these days who are trying to blur the differences between the two major parties.  But, in most cases, the R or the D gives you a pretty good sense of what you are going to get when they are elected.

The fact that so many people see Democrat lawyers as a bunch of panty-waists is NOT my problem.  It’s up to them to change the public’s view of them and their party.  Trying to obscure party ID and blur the differences to mislead or confuse voters is not a healthy option. The party a person aligns themselves with tends to say a lot about how they view the issues. 

Clearly, the lefties are concerned about current efforts in the General Assembly to promote the use of party ID in local races.  The drivebys are moaning about how adding party ID to local ballots will exclude many candidates from running for local office.  A bipartisan bill just introduced in the House should make things easier for independents to get ballot access.

Here in Moore County, we pick a sizable chunk of our school board — non partisan, of course — via an at-large vote.  In 2014, we elected three at-large candidates to the school board who got, respectively, 18.5 percent, 18.1 percent, and 16.5 percent of the vote.  (In our yellow-dog GOP county, this is one of the few opportunities for Democrats to get elected to something.  In 2014, one of the three winners was a prominent, highly-partisan Democrat.  If she had to run in a district, with a D next to her name, she’d never win.) 

We also have liberal supporters of non-partisan local races moaning about “the cost” of partisan runoff elections.  Seriously?  I’d much rather shell out a little more tax money so that a clear winner with a clear majority of the vote is determined, rather than awarding someone a four year term in local office who only got 18 percent of the vote.   How much of a mandate — how much credibility — does a local official who only got 18 percent of the vote have?