I would like to clear up some confusion regarding non-partisan local elections.
Q: There has been some confusion around which offices are non-partisan and why. Can you elaborate on the bills you passed in 2014 to clarify voter concerns?
A: For a number of years I have heard many complaints from locally elected officials about having to run for office on a designated party ticket. I had also heard from many constituents who believed that certain offices should not be affiliated with a party. Their concerns are understandable as most locally elected offices actually have nothing to do with party politics, but it has always been set-up that way.
Q: What offices were people complaining about being party affiliated?
A: I had complaints in regards to ALL local races and quite frankly, I have to say I agree. The smaller communities in Georgia that are less populated should not put citizens in a position where they have to choose one friend over another because of party affiliation.
Q: What offices were you able to change to non-partisan at the local level with the legislation you passed in 2014?
A: I was able to pass what I legally could on my own through local legislation. The coroner, magistrate judge and probate judge are now non-partisan in Dodge County.
Q: Can Georgia change a rule that would make all local elections non-partisan?
A: My original intent for our district was to make ALL local elections non-partisan. However, when I got to Atlanta to submit legislation for non-partisan local elections, I discovered that most local officials are slated in the Georgia Constitution. That means the entire state would have to change to non-partisan local elections. Unfortunately, in order to get offices such as the Sheriff and Tax Commissioner to be non-partisan, it would take a 2/3 majority vote to change the state Constitution and that is hard to do. I did sponsor legislation to change these offices to non-partisan state wide, but unfortunately, it didn’t move forward.
Q: What does it mean for voters on primary election day?
A: Well the good news is that the coroner, magistrate judge and probate judge, will be on BOTH ballots, Democrat and Republican. The bad news is that the other local offices remain affiliated with a party, so in order to vote for your candidate of choice, you will have to pick whatever ballot they are on. I don’t agree with partisan politics on the local level at all. Citizens shouldn’t have to pick and choose who to vote for based off of party politics; they should be voting for whoever is best for the job. I will continue to fight for non-partisan elections on the local statewide elections, but I will need some help to ensure we get the support we need from the General Assembly.