An old Chinese saying states “may you live in interesting times.”
One situation that I find interesting is the trend of political parties forcing their way into influencing one of the last places that should not be influenced by partisan party politics: town and city nonpartisan elections.
We see this happening at the national level, and now we see it locally.
This election cycle, the Warren County Republican Party decided that it needed to endorse several candidates for Town Council in a nonpartisan race.
In the wisdom of our Virginia forefathers, it was decided that the need for partisan town elections in small communities was unnecessary due to local issues that governing bodies would be dealing with over time. Most of these issues would deal with providing basic services for the community – water, sanitation, police protection, public works and in some cases power distribution. Many of the national issues never come into play at the local level.
Does partisan party endorsements help or hurt in town elections?
In the case of Front Royal’s council elections, I feel endorsements hurt our community by creating a clear disadvantage for candidates running as nonpartisan and federal government employees running as candidates for offices in a nonpartisan local election.
The Hatch Act was put into place to allow federal government employees to be able to run for nonpartisan offices. A drawback of having partisan endorsements in a nonpartisan election is that our federally employed citizens running for office cannot accept financial campaign support directly from a party. This does not hold true for other endorsed candidates. Failure to comply to this restriction could result in the loss of their job.
This restriction could reduce the pool of quality federal employed citizens living in our community who might be interested in running for an elected office.
This party endorsement could go to a less qualified candidate who citizens might elect by following only the party endorsement.
Other quality nonpartisan candidates are at a disadvantage of having to compete financially for raising campaign funds against the party providing financial support to these endorsed candidates. This could result in the endorsed candidates being more loyal to the party over what is good for our community.
They say change is inevitable, however I hope the sanctity of the nonpartisan elections will return without political parties feeling moved to endorse partisan candidates in a nonpartisan election.
Let’s pick the best woman or man who can do the best job in making our community great again.
Michael Graham is a Front Royal resident.