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Ditch party line for local offices

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POSTED: February 14, 2013 9:30 a.m.

If there’s one thing most of us will probably agree on, it’s that many tend to disagree whenever politics enters a discussion.
It’s that Red State, Blue State thing. Republicans vs. Democrats. Liberals vs. conservatives. Ideology and politics vs. compromise and pragmatism.
Enter Sen. Buddy Carter, the Pooler Republican who represents Bryan County in the Georgia General Assembly. He has introduced legislation that would allow counties to make some local offices, such as tax commissioner, sheriff and coroner, nonpartisan.
It’s a good start. It should make no difference whether a tax commissioner is a Republican or a Democrat, as long as that person is honest, accountable and can do the job. The same can be said of coroners. And, we think, the same should be said of judges, sheriffs, county commissioners, city councilmen, mayors and every other potential officeholder on a ballot. What matters are a person’s qualifications, not which party he is affiliated with. In fact, the greatest praise one can give an elected official is that he or she is a good leader who seeks to do best for all constituents.
Certainly, party affiliation has a place in politics. It is a label that helps define a candidate’s philosophy on government. But a candidate’s party doesn’t necessarily tell us who the person is or how he or she will perform in office. In fact, it may serve to limit knowledge of a candidate, since without the party label voters may be more inclined to research a candidate’s record and background.
What’s more, not all candidates are as advertised. For example, there are free-spending Republicans and hawkish Democrats, though Republicans praise themselves on limited government while Democrats are typically thought of as a party more concerned with domestic affairs.
From an economic standpoint, there’s the cost of primary elections to consider. Those can be costly. There’s also the grip the two major parties seem to have on the process to consider. We need to find a way to make room for more people in the process. Making local elections nonpartisan would ensure fair treatment for those who may wish to serve but are outside the party system.
There are those who might shudder to think of an election without such labels. And there’s nothing wrong with believing in the ideals and principles of a political party. But it’s an idea worth considering, if for no other reason than this: There’s no mention of a Republican or Democrat or any political party at all in the U.S. Constitution. None at all.

 

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