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County may add city elections to call for partisan ballot

Under pressure from constituents demanding transparency and public input, Henderson County commissioners last week pulled a resolution from their agenda calling for partisan School Board elections and moved it to their meeting at 5:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 6.

But passage of the resolution did not appear to be in doubt, and in fact it may be expanded. Three commissioners expressed support for partisan School Board elections and Vice Chair Michael Edney suggested the board may want to ask the state Legislature to make all municipal elections partisan, too.
“At least one School Board member has raised some concerns and wants some time,” he said. “Secondly, maybe more importantly, I want some more time because I question whether we need to stop at the School Board and maybe not ask that all local elections be partisan. I just want some time to think about that. Same rationale for School Board goes with all these other local offices. And I just want some time to think about that.”
When Commissioner Daniel Andreotta, who introduced the resolution, said he wasn’t aware there were other nonpartisan elections, Edney said he was referring to municipal elections.
Andreotta defended the resolution and responded to feedback he had received.
“We've received a lot of pro and con comment on this topic,” he said. Responding to an accusation that the resolution had been cooked up in secret and placed on the consent agenda — usually for routine noncontroversial routine matters that don’t merit board discussion — Andreotta pointed out that the agenda was made public six days before the meeting.
“So Thursday last week it went out to the world with the consent agenda with a link and everything,” he said. “The consent agenda is often used to make efficient use of time (for) procedural things, routine things, things that we feel there might be a general consensus on. We often pull things, discuss them. That's the process.”
Other opponents of the resolution told Andreotta “that we don't want to make these people something that they're not,” he said. “Every candidate who ever ran for anything, including dog catcher, has their ideology and their values already. You don't make them into anything. … The real issue is one thing. It is simply voter information.”
One email he got was from a poll worker who said some voters were frustrated that election workers could not tell them the party registration of the School Board candidates.
“I had to explain I could not provide that information,” the poll worker told the commissioner. “These voters were clearly frustrated and often said they just wouldn't vote for that race.”
“They should have all the information possible,” Andreotta said. “Giving a voter information does not make them less intelligent. They can use it, they can not use it, they can factor it in however they wish. Let's make sure we understand what the issue is and it's just simply voters having more information in this (School Board election) and as the vice chair said possibly other races as well.”

Commissioner David Hill also endorsed the resolution.

"I'd say I agree with Commissioner Andreotta," he said. "This is about information to the voter. Information is key."