Our View: Albemarle City Council made the right decision

Published 11:17 am Monday, March 11, 2019

Albemarle’s city council did the right thing in joining the large majority of cities in North Carolina with non-partisan elections.

As we have said here before, partisan politics have no place at the local level. Hopefully this move will be followed by other boards such as the county commissioners and sheriff’s races moving to non-partisan status.

Two of the councilmen wanted to take the decision to a public referendum. That’s an interesting but unattractive option because it does a couple things.

First, it would put this decision squarely in the wheelhouse of the political parties. Had the Democrat and Republican parties wanted to protect the partisan nature of city council elections they could have used their political apparatuses to get out the vote to maintain the status quo. It could have meant the parties would have actually been working together for the same result, which would have been interesting. Thankfully the majority of city council recognized a referendum as a bad idea.

Referendums also weaken the power of the council. If they had taken this decision to the people for a vote what would be next? Tax rates? New fire trucks? The councilpersons who spoke in the majority were right to say they were elected to make tough decisions. That’s what they are there for. If they run to the voters every time a decision seems difficult or controversial, they just shouldn’t run for office.