January 29, 2003
Albany - Albany attorney Maurice King Jr. has voted in at least 17 elections since he became a registered voter.
And he has never voted for a Republican.
That's why he's upset the Dougherty County School Board discussed changing to non-partisan elections. Wednesday, King told the school board non-partisan elections would be bad for Dougherty County voters.
"The board is majority black," King said. "Of those black people on the board, probably 85 percent of the people who put them in office were people who voted on the Democratic ticket."
King says non-partisan elections would benefit people who won't run as Republicans here because they think they won't get the votes they need.
"I don't want a Republican masking himself in democratic clothing just to get me to vote for them," he said. "If they are a Republican, they should run as a Republican."
Traditionally, Dougherty Countians vote Democratic.
In the 2002 primaries, Harold Farnsworth was the only person to run as a republican in Dougherty County. He ran for the District 6 county commission seat and received 270 votes.
1,967 people voted for Democratic candidates. No one even ran for school board as a Republican.
However, some people feel the issues that face local governments are not partisan in nature.
"If you think about it, you don't have these great debates about the issues you hear at a national level ever occuring in either a city council, county commission or a school board," said school board attorney Tommy Coleman.
But school board officials say no one should worry. Changing to non-partisan elections would take a vote by Georgia's General Assembly.
"The most important thing is the school board has not asked nobody in the legislature to consider changing the manner in which school board members are elected," said school board chairman, C.W. Grant.
The school board would also have to approve non-partisan elections before it ever reached the state level.
Posted at 11:55 p.m.