Baltimore should adopt nonpartisan local elections

November 15, 2011

The archaic practice of having local government elections based on party politics is the reason turnout at the polls and is so embarrassing. During the primary voting in September, the street in front of my polling place was crowded with people bearing signs and distributing literature. When I visited the same site during November's general election, they were all gone.

I come from the West, where city councilmen, mayors, county councilmen, sheriffs and district attorneys all run in non-partisan elections. There is no Democratic or Republican way to run a library or police department.

Here, few people pay any attention to general elections. The incumbents squeeze out most opposition in the primaries, and if the best candidate happens to have GOP registration, he or she can manage only a token effort at best.

Yet, there are talented candidates in both parties, and we deserve the best of who is available.

We should take a cue from Western America and eliminate party registration in elections for local government offices. Let partisan politics reign in Annapolis or Washington, but not at City Hall.

Michael Schaefer, Baltimore

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