Council moves ahead with non-partisan election process

Published 8:05 am Tuesday, March 5, 2019

On Monday night, the Albemarle City Council passed a motion to prepare a resolution to change elections to non-partisan.

Local elections should always be nonpartisan, said Councilman Chris Whitley, who made a motion for staff to create a resolution.

Whitley said he’s lost a lot sleep since the public hearing two weeks ago. He said he examined arguments for and against changing to nonpartisan elections.

Councilmen Dexter Townsend and Chris Bramlett believed that the people — not the council — should decide Albemarle’s election fate.

Of the people Townsend has spoken to regarding the issue, “their concern is they think that a matter this divided among the city…should be decided by the people, the citizens of Albemarle.”

“I don’t see any reason why not to let the people decide,” Bramlett said.

Almost a third of voters in the city identify as unaffiliated and they cannot run for office because they do not belong to either of the two main parties, Whitley said.

The people elected the council members to make tough decisions, such as the election dispute, and also only a tiny percentage of cities, towns and villages in North Carolina are partisan, Whitley added.

“And there’s a reason for that,” Townsend said. “We don’t have a good track record as far as diversity.”

Councilwoman Martha Hughes said this issue has also kept her awake for many nights.

“I believe we are elected to make tough decisions at times and I think this is one of those that we need to make a decision and we need to move on with other business,” Hughes said.

By a vote of 4-3, Whitley’s motion passed.

The city staff will research all of the election options (plurality elections or primary elections) before they bring their findings to the council.

The next council meeting will be March 18.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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