Lincoln County Commissioners headed to removing D’s and R’s from Commissioner candidacy on the ballot
Lincoln County Commissioners Wednesday took a step closer to putting their individual political status for election purposes on the November ballot. They were under the impression that the changing of their jobs to “non-partisan” would be on the May ballot but County Counsel Wayne Belmont said he was reminded such special county issues can only go on even-year special election ballots.
Commissioners re-iterated that by going “non-partisan” on the ballot it would allow up to 25 percent more Lincoln County voters, who are not registered democrats or republicans, to have more involvement in the Primary Election’s “whittling down” process that cuts the candidacy numbers to two per commissioner position heading into the General Election in November. As it is today, only registered democrat or republican candidates can file for a commissioner position for the Primary ballot. If the voters approve the commission seats going non-partisan, everybody gets to vote in the Primary and the General. If the measure passes, the candidates for the 2014 election would all appear on the May 2014 Primary ballot. The two top vote getters for each commissioner position in the Primary would go on to the General in November of 2014. However, if one candidate in the Primary wins a majority of those voting, (50% of the vote plus one) that person does not have to run in the General – they would be considered duly elected to the position starting in January of 2015.
The commissioners received very little testimony for or against making their seats non-partisan and re-announced that there will be another public hearing on the matter next Wednesday, February 20th, 9:30am, at the county commission chambers at the courthouse. If no one raises the preponderance of a fatal flaw to the idea, County Counsel Wayne Belmont is likely to be instructed to create a ballot issue posing the question of commissioner non-partisan elections for the November ballot.
Both commissioners Doug Hunt and Terry Thompson are expected to run for election next year and would be the first county commissioners to come under the new non-partisan procedure if the voters give it a thumbs up this November.
A League of Women Voters member informed the commission that democrat and republican candidacies were historically assigned to the Primary ballot in an effort to give the voters decades ago some idea of the political leanings of the candidates. But again, commissioners say the process unfairly bars independents or others with different party affiliations from running in the Primary, and then having to play catch up as the election heads to November.
We’ll see how the voters weigh in on it.