So much for non-partisanship

Take away the label and you don't take away the partisanship. You just keep the public in the dark.
Take away the label and you don't take away the partisanship. You just keep the public in the dark.

I got a call today from one of the candidates for the new King County Elections Director position, asking for my help. The new, non-partisan, Elections Director position. I asked this person, who was still in the race? My caller said, 'ꀜWell, on the Democratic side there is 'ꀦ'ꀦ.., and on the Republican side there is'ꀦ'ꀦ'ꀝ

So much for non-partisanship.

As far as I know, the King County Council (which we just voted to make non-partisan) is still organized along party lines, and I will be shocked if the members stop holding their regular partisan caucus meetings next year.

This is nothing new. Our formerly non-partisan Sheriff ran for Congress as a Republican. Candidates for Superintendent of Public Instruction are routinely grilled by insiders to determine their party affiliation if it isn'ꀙt readily apparent. When I was on the King County Council, my district included all or most of the cities of Algona, Pacific, Auburn, Kent, Sea Tac, Burien, Normandy Park, and Des Moines. Eight cities, roughly 40 city councilmembers, and virtually all of them were active members of one party or the other. I knew their party affiliation — but the voters didn'ꀙt.

I know very well how much voters say they hate the two parties, but making offices non-partisan does not make the partisanship go away, it just hides vital information from voters. Parties don'ꀙt create differences in people; the differences in people create the two parties. Non-partisanship won'ꀙt give us government without ideology; it will just allow candidates to hide their ideology.

Oh well, given our propensity for rearranging county government every few years perhaps voters will eventually rethink this decision at some point. Maybe when a Republican wins a 'ꀜnon-partisan'ꀝ countywide race.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Chris Vance

Chris Vance

Chris Vance, a former Republican party chairman, is a senior fellow at the Niskanen Center.