As politics in Washington, DC have become increasingly partisan and dysfunctional, one county in Oregon could potentially move the opposite direction.
On Election Day, November 5th, residents of Lincoln County will decide whether to change the way they elect their county commissioners.
Currently commissioners in Lincoln County run partisan races – meaning they declare their candidacy as a Republican, Democrat or another political party. If challenged within that party, they go through primary elections, and then move to the general ballot.
In August though, the three current commissioners unanimously voted to switch to a non-partisan system. They need voter approval to push this kind of change through.
Commissioner Terry Thompson represents the coastal part of Lincoln County, including Newport and Yachats.
Thompson: “This is more about business management than it is party politics. In fact, since I’ve been here – so about 11 years I’ve been a county commissioner – I can’t say where I’ve ever made a partisan decision.”
Under a non-partisan system, there will still be primary races if more than two candidates run for a position. The difference is, all voters, not just those affiliated with the candidate’s party will be eligible to cast ballots in those primaries.
Thompson concedes that party affiliation can give voters an indication of what a candidate believes.
Thompson: “But really those kinds of things should show up in the campaign process.”
A change from partisan to non-partisan is not expected to make any appreciable financial difference in the election process.