Why Should Local Races Be Non-Partisan?

September 12, 2013 at 4:04 pm Leave a comment

by Jason Bradley

I was reading my colleague’s article yesterday on the Golden Valley elections and the endorsements that they received. It got me thinking about why local elections are non-partisan, and whether that is a good strategy or not. To answer these questions, we must look at the function of city governments. 1) To administer the daily business of running a city (water, lights, road maintenance, etc.- there’s an argument as to whether these functions are really best served by a City, or by private enterprise, but that’s for another discussion), and 2) to protect the liberties and rights of the residents within their city from criminals and more intrusive forms of government.

Political parties demand loyalty. I’m not saying they can’t. These are private organizations that should be free to make their own membership rules. We must, as candidates or voters however, realize that a candidate that seeks and happily receives an endorsement from a party is stating that they are willing to abide by that party’s rules. So you’ve got a candidate that is faced with towing the party line, or upsetting the party and risk losing endorsement. Why do you think Mayor Shep Harris flip-flopped on light rail? In the end, it was because he had to. He carries the endorsement of a party that is staunchly pro-light rail and transit-oriented development (and happens to have unchecked power, at the moment). That is what happens when you throw in with a political party. You are bound to put party before people. This can be a problem whether your endorsement carries an R or D behind it.

What do you think you will get if you pull the lever for either Snope or Fonnest? You will cement the future of light rail running through Theodore Wirth Park. Polls suggest that the vast majority of Golden Valley is against that, so it will be curious to see what happens in November. Do you really trust the people that are in favor of light rail to protect you from it? Or maybe, the political party has done so much for you in the past that you feel you owe them rights to Theodore Wirth Park? I don’t mean to be crass here, but I don’t understand why we check our principles at the door when it comes to these parties. Time and time again, we see Democrats and Republicans put party before principle. We have to look no further than each party’s respective national conventions. Both parties engaged in blatant betrayal of their delegates.

So, go ahead and vote for the endorsed candidates. Go ahead and elect the pro-light rail, transit oriented development, complete street candidates (and while you’re at it, you might as well elect the pro-light rail, transit oriented development, complete street, opponent of the 1st Amendment, Councilman Smidgall), and see what happens… or you can take your chances with someone that isn’t bound by party desires, and you might just get someone that will stand up for you.

Entry filed under: City Government, County. Tags: , , , , , , .

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