March 29, 2015

More partisan races? No, thank you

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 8, 2012

What the world needs now is more partisanship?Hardly, but that’s what the Rowan County Board of Commissioners is pushing.
Commissioners recently drew up their legislative priorities for next year, and on the list was Commissioner Jim Sides’ suggestion that all elected offices in the state become partisan positions.
That would affect the state’s judicial elections, which have not listed candidates’ party affiliation since around 2004. North Carolina is one of about 20 states that use elections to choose their judges, and most are non-partisan. If Sides really means all elections, though, his idea could bring partisanship into races for everything from school board to city council to Soil & Water Conservation supervisor.
No, thank you.

Conflict between the two major political parties has locked Congress in a state of inertia. Carried to the extreme – which is exactly where the nation is right now – partisanship divides government, creates animosity and leads to distrust.
Hardly something the nation or state needs more of.
Nor do our municipalities need that. One of the refreshing aspects of municipal elections is the lack of party involvement. Voters may or may not know the affiliation of the candidates. What they do know is who is responsive to their concerns, from street lights to rezoning requests. The same goes for the school board. These election processes are not broken; why meddle by trying to “fix” them?
In case you didn’t notice, Sides is dragging his fellow county commissioners into a couple of power plays for which they seem to have little appetite. Only three supported partisan elections as a legislative goal for the General Assembly – Sides, Carl Ford and Chairman Chad Mitchell, with Raymond Coltrain and Jon Barber voting against it.

Another item on the Sides agenda also drew tepid support: He wants county governments to have more control over how local funds are spent by school systems.
That’s not really anything new. Different commissioners have tried to micromanage the schools for years. But Sides may be one of the first to seek legal authority to do so. At any rate, the rest of the commissioners weren’t going for that. Managing the county budget is responsibility enough, and so are the meetings required to do that. So, on a 4-1 vote with Coltrain voting no, the board agreed instead to ask state lawmakers to examine how local funds given to schools for operating expenses are spent.
Sides, who accepted the compromise, had backed up his proposal by saying the 1 percent raise that the school board gave its employees in July “slapped us in the face” because it required taking $1 million out of the schools’ fund balance. Sides has begrudged the school system’s fund balance for years; it’s one of many things he would like to control. Considering how Sides has verbally slapped the school system and numerous other people through the years, maybe he should respond to this supposed affront the way the school board has had do. Turn the other cheek.

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