Sunday, May 13, 2007

LTE: Partisan Elections

Dear Editor,

So, according to your article "City moves toward partisan elections" (May 11, 2007), certain members of Asheville's city council would like to make our elections even more partisan than they are now.

The change being considered would require that unaffiliated candidates obtain signatures from 4% of the total electorate (2,249) on a certified petition in 17 days to get on the ballot and would open ballots to straight-ticket voting.

My question is this: Why this, why now and what's the hurry? I have heard a lot of defensive talk from proponents, but I have not heard any satisfactory answers. None.

I can see no other benefit of going back to partisan elections other than to manipulate the law to protect the vulnerable from competition in the political marketplace, to preserve an tenuous ideological monopoly, and shield a governing body from diversity.

Asheville, I think, should be one city that is unafraid of dialogue on a level playing field without the tribalistic patronage of party machinery. City leaders should be cheerfully encouraging participation in the political process rather than cynically devising technical methods for discouraging 27% of our voters from sharing a place at the table.

We can do better than use our positions of power to circle the wagons. We have real work to do. Let's do that instead.

(Tim Peck is an unaffiliated libertarian running for city council.)