Thursday, June 08, 2023

EDITORIAL: Don't let partisanship set sail

| May 12, 2023 1:00 AM

nonpartisan, adjective: free from party affiliation, bias, or designation — Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Local elections are not and should never be partisan.

The relentless and, sadly, often effective efforts to turn nonpartisan elections into political purity tests represent more than a dumbing down of the entire process. By separating candidates in nonpartisan elections into two teams, attaching political labels certifying one side good and the other evil, this kind of extremism undermines the foundation of local governance.

Wonder how men like Todd Banducci, Greg McKenzie and Mike Waggoner could ever be entrusted with the keys to the North Idaho College bus, which they’re gleefully guiding right off a cliff?

How several members of local taxing district boards, including schools and libraries, can faithfully pander to their political masters by pushing ideological agendas with little regard for or understanding of the actual jobs they were elected to perform?

The answer is as simple as it is disastrous: Excise the “non” from nonpartisan elections.

Hand-pick people from your political circle, promote them with expensive partisan campaigns fueled largely by misinformation, reward them with continued financial and emotional support, never admit a mistake and, most importantly, give not an inch, ever, to any type of compromise or sincere consideration of other viewpoints.

NIC’s board majority serves as a perfect example of what this strategy typically and tragically renders. These sad stories start with nonpartisan elections made partisan.

In her most recent ruling against Banducci, McKenzie and Waggoner’s attempts to undercut President Nick Swayne, Judge Cynthia Meyer pinpointed the predominant problem:

“…the current board majority confuses itself for an elected political leader, like the President of the United States, who makes political appointments in the form of cabinet heads, for example, and is not at all expected to retain the predecessor’s cabinet heads, particularly if the predecessor was of a different political party,” Judge Meyer wrote. “Community college board elections are filled by non-partisan elections. The board hires a president who oversees the operations of the college.”

What the purveyors of partisanship manufacture are cookie-cutter political pieces, not the representatives that legitimate nonpartisan elections produce: citizens with deep ties to and respect for the community, its people and its longstanding institutions; who understand clearly their roles and responsibilities; who rise to the top because of what they know, not who they know.

The people who brought you Banducci, McKenzie and Waggoner are at it again. Please don't swallow the partisan pill on Tuesday.

Recent Headlines