Bill Proposes Allowing Non-Partisan Elections for Local Offices

A bill that would provide the option of making the elections of certain county officials, including sheriff, district attorney, coroner, tax commissioner and clerk of superior court non-partisan was dropped in the Senate hopper this afternoon, and is expected to have a first reading on Wednesday. Senate Bill 318 is sponsored by Rick Jefffares of McDonough, Fran Millar of Dunwoody, Jesse Stone of Waynesboro, Brandon Beach of Alpharetta and others.

In order to move to non-partisan elections, senators and representatives of a county would need to pass local legislation authorizing it. This capacity already exists for school board members, judicial offices, and officers of consolidated county – city governments.

Back at the old place, we discussed the possibility in 2013 and 2014. Some say that making certain positions non-partisan might keep better qualified candidates in office in areas which are transitioning from one party to another. Others believe that a candidate’s political party is a good indicator of how the person will perform in office, and party primaries should be continued. This isn’t the first time the idea has been brought up–Allen Peake dropped a similar bill in the House a few years back. Is it time to give this idea serious consideration?

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Dave Bearse
Dave Bearse

Yes. Overwhelming one party control means primaries pull candidates (and officeholders) to extremes. Non-partisan if local delegation agrees should be a slam dunk. The conversation ought to be about incumbency.

Should any indication of incumbency be removed? Not that that has an ice cube’s chance.

Even with incumbency indicated, how about placing names in random order by computer ballot by ballot, each candidate theoretically equally appearing first for the office..

Pete Gibbons
Pete Gibbons

This one gets a very big thumbs up, especially when it comes to sheriff and district attorney.

Teri
Teri

Yep. And why on earth should the Clerk of Court be partisan?

I wonder if more elected folks and potential candidates would support this bill if they realized how freaking fantastic it is to be in a nonpartisan office? Y’all, it’s awesome.

Teri
Teri

Yes, it is absolutely time. One example of why it’s time is the latest Cobb Commission districts, which were drawn by Republicans, for Republicans – and that totally disregards the concept of “communities of interest” in the interest of ensuring that Republicans keep their commission seats. Real Talk: Bob Ott would be reelected regardless of his party because he’s done a good job. Was it really necessary to divide the City of Smyrna between three commission districts because the Cobb R delegation is so afraid of losing their majority on the commission? Which, hello, this is Cobb County, I think… Read more »

Will Durant
Will Durant

Does a bear wear a funny hat while the pope goes into the woods?

It’s a baby step but I will take it. Who seriously cares about their coroner’s politics?

Benevolus
Benevolus

I oppose it. Candidates do not have to affiliate themselves with a party, but if they do, I want to know about it. The real motivation for this is to obscure the actual partisanship of a candidate anyway. I mean, just because it’s not shown on the ballot doesn’t mean they are suddenly independent. As mentioned in the OP, this supposedly might be helpful “in areas which are transitioning from one party to another.” Areas in Georgia are only trending one way these days, so question the altruistic sounding motivation for this. It is purely an attempt to allow a… Read more »

drjay
drjay

meh, i have no problem with localities deciding how they want to hold their local elections. especially since ballot access is such that folks are kinda forced to pick a party in these races even if they have been the deputy clerk for 20 years, and don’t particularly consider themselves political, but are not sure they can get the 1700 signatures in time to qualify as an independent in rural county ga…

Ellynn
Ellynn

About 12 years ago my local county rep office, and my school rep only had Republicans running. There were no Democrats. The County Clerk and DA had no Republicans running. So by default I legally allowed to have had no vote in 2 of these 4 offices.

Benevolus
Benevolus

So with a so-called “non-partisan” election, you would have had more choices but it would be harder for many to sort through the campaign rhetoric to understand who is what among the candidates. there is a better answer.

This is yet another problem that Ranked Choice Voting would solve.
One election, no runoffs, everybody is on the ballot, list your candidates in order of your preference. Done.

Need easier ballot access instead of less information for voters.

chefdavid
chefdavid

Notice they left out county commisioners. I am opposed to this bill . I want to know how a person feels on issues. Are they a conservative or a liberal? Also in races that draw a lot of candidates partisan primaries offer a play-off situation where most of the time the cream of the crop (or crap depending on your views) rise to the top. On a side note in most small counties like mine this would also gut the local parties because of the money the recieve from the qualifiying fees.

Pete Gibbons
Pete Gibbons

Before the massive GOP takeover of Georgia, all of these county positions were held by Democrats in Elbert County. Now, all of those same elected officials are in office, as republicans. So the D or R by the name is meaningless. (sometimes at the state and federal level too) It also makes more sense as most local campaigns do not have the budget that state and federal campaigns do. It has happened on more than once that a challenger will run under a different party flag just to get to November, and run someone against the incumbent in the primary… Read more »