Should some elections be nonpartisan? - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Should some elections be nonpartisan?

By Karen Cohilas - bio | email

November 25, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - When the General Assembly convenes in January, one of the bills they plan to consider is making certain elected offices nonpartisan. If passed, the District Attorney, Sheriff and solicitor general would all be elected in the general election, without declaring a party. Other local offices could also be become nonpartisan.  

As the District Attorney elect, Greg Edwards has the job of making sure criminals are prosecuted according to the law, not according to his personal beliefs or those of a political party.

"Conceptually, I would say, for instance, the District Attorneys office should be perhaps considered a prime candidate to be a nonpartisan race because the District Attorney represents the people," said Edwards.

In Georgia, Superior Court judges are elected in nonpartisan races, and as a quasi-judicial role, Edwards believes D.A.s should be elected the same way. He also agrees the Sheriff and school board are positions that could be best served with nonpartisan elections.

He said, "A lot of times, a lot of citizens want to get involved and they don't want to get into the political aspect of it to the extent they have to sign on to a particular party."

David Maschke, who was recently re-elected to serve on the school board agrees. Plus, he says, why should it matter what party you are affililated with if you have the best interests of the people you serve at heart? "I think things like education, enforcing the law, those are not political issues, those are just issues of doing the right thing and selecting the best candidate regardless of party."

Though he understands there may be opposition to the concept. "What the concern is, is that it would be used to dilute majority voting strength," said Maschke.

If the bill passes, the District Attorney, Solicitor General and Sheriff would be mandated to be nonpartisan elections. Other county offices could become nonpartisan by local act of the General Assembly.

The Dougherty School board considered becoming nonpartisan several years ago, but did not receive the support of the entire board.

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