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Morning Sun
  • OUR VIEW: Local races key; keep them that way

  • When bills are proposed, they rarely happen without any support whatsoever from the public. Even the most minor bill likely has some ardent supporter who cares deeply about improving their life or the lives of those around them.

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  • When bills are proposed, they rarely happen without any support whatsoever from the public. Even the most minor bill likely has some ardent supporter who cares deeply about improving their life or the lives of those around them.
    Which is why it surprised us this week to see not one but two senate bills that would make local elections partisan. One would also have local elections in November in odd-numbered years, and the other would have local elections in November in even-numbered years.
    This surprised us, because we can’t imagine anyone who feels government on any scale needs to be any more partisan. We can’t believe there is a huge groundswell of support from Kansans calling for the gridlock, accusations, drama, bravado and drawing of lines in the sand that come with partisan politics to be extended to commission races and the like.
    A third bill, this time from the House, would keep the elections nonpartisan and in odd-numbered years, but in November. Local elections now are nonpartisan and held in odd-numbered years in the spring.
    There is no reason to inject partisan politics into local elections. Whether a person is Republican, Democrat, Communist or Green Party makes little to no  difference when it comes to a race for, say, Crawford County Attorney or Pittsburg City Commission.
    Does it really make much of a difference if a Democrat is prosecuting a court case or a Republican is mayor? Partisan politics are at least understandable for state and federal elections, but how does being a Republican determine one’s standing on a water main improvement or being a Democrat help shape one’s stance on street repair? It doesn’t.
    Further, the argument for moving the elections to the fall is that supporters believe it would increase voter turnout. However, the Lawrence Journal-World reported that the deputy assistant secretary of state, who testified in support of the house bill, admitted that there was no evidence that this would be the case.
    There’s a good reason that local elections are at a different time than any other election — they stand out that way. We would hate to see local elections held at the same time as presidential elections, for example, because they would easily get lost in the partisan noise.
    Local elections have taken place in the spring since 1861 in this state. Would it not be more confusing to change an elections process that’s been in place for 150 years?
    Furthermore, we would argue that local elections are even more important than state and federal elections because it affects us more on a day-to-day basis. We don’t call President Obama if Lincoln Park is dirty. We don’t tell Congress if a Girard side street has a pothole in it. We don’t get mad at the state government for a leaky water main.
    Page 2 of 2 - Local elections are vital to our communities because these candidates are our neighbors. These races are truly important, and deserve to stand on their own.
    Those that care and are involved will vote. We believe all should care about their local elections, coming up on April 2. Read up on the candidate forums, talk with your particular set of candidates, learn the issues that are important and where candidates stand. Most of all, get out and vote for the person who you want to represent your community.
    The local elections are important. Let’s keep them that way.
    — For the Morning Sun
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