OK, Non-Partisan Elections in some people’s estimation may not quite be “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” but they’re not exactly a meager little lamb either. However, depending on your view, the analogy is an appropriate one. In case you were wondering, the Wolf in my analogy is the individual running for office in a Non-Partisan election who pretends to be something they’re not.
On a side note, “A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is often erroneously attributed to “Aesop’s Fables” when in fact it’s a cautionary tale from Matthew 7:15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” The reason this distinction is important is the fact that it’s from this passage that I’m approaching this article. The cautionary tales associated with the “Wolf” or “Big Bad Wolf” could also be applied to some degree in this instance as well.
Pros & Cons of Nonpartisan Elections
A Nonpartisan Election is an election in which the candidates run for office without partisan labels. These types of elections are generally held at the municipal and county level, such as County Commissions, City Council, School Boards, and Judges, etc.
Those who are in favor of nonpartisan elections often argue that political parties are divisive and irrelevant and when it comes to needed cooperation between elected officials of different parties is less likely. On the other hand, those who support partisan elections argue the absence of party labels can be confusing to voters; a voter who votes based on perceived ideology due to party affiliation is left guessing, especially in smaller elections like local school board elections, where most candidates have a limited budget to reach voters.
Sullivan County, Tennessee 2020 Board of Education Election
When it comes to Nonpartisan Elections, my home state of Tennessee is like many others and in fact, of all the Nonpartisan municipal elections in the U.S., Memphis and Nashville are the 14th and 20th largest cities in the country to hold them. In recent years, some Tennessee Counties have voted to stop holding these types of elections for their County Commission and Sullivan County, my home County is one of them. The problem was, Sullivan County is a deeply Republican County and many Commissioners would simply associate themselves with Republicans, but only while campaigning, to mask their real party affiliation, once elected, they would vote contrary to this. By holding partisan elections, it has rooted out some of these issues. Albeit, we now have some folks on our County Commission who were once on the Commission during the Nonpartisan Election years, they now claim to fully be Republicans albeit some of their votes are very suspect.
That aside, we still have Nonpartisan Elections for our County Board of Education and it was a conversation with a political leader from a nearby County and a few other conversations with voters in my own County that sparked me to write this article. Now, in case I lost you, the “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” is the candidate who presents themselves on the surface as being affiliated with one party, but underneath is anything but. Also, remember, Sullivan County votes 85%+ for Republicans in most every Partisan Election, therefore, we see some Democrats getting elected in the few Nonpartisan Elections within our County by either not being politically active except during campaign season or by occasionally attending a Republican event. This way, they don’t draw attention to themselves, plus they can pop up when campaigning and playoff the fact they’re not politically active otherwise due to work or other commitments. This game works in these low-profile, small voter turnout elections, but once these types are in office, their votes run contrary to the way they presented themselves to the voters.
At this point, you’re asking, when is he going to talk about the Board of Education, and here I go. In recent years, the Sullivan County Board of Education has made dozens of morally and ethically questionable calls and a few very costly conscience decisions that have led to other costly blunders. The majority of those on the Board of Education at the time were Democrats, in 2018, we remedied a few of these by electing Republicans and now in 2020, we have a great opportunity to elect two more great Republicans.
In fact, one of these great Republicans is running against a current member of the County Board of Education who’s running for re-election, he’s such a Democrat, that he’s donated thousands of dollars to them in recent years. This individual has donated thousands of dollars to Hillary Clinton, Mark Warner, Phil Bredesen, and many others. I owe a big thank you to several Sullivan County voters for bringing this to my attention.
The same individual, according to at least four Republican voters, in the past couple of weeks, brought his elections yard signs and placed them in front of Republican headquarters in Kingsport to blend in. The area in question is part of the business park property and not part of the right of way so therefore the Republican Party can remove those signs and I believe they did, thankfully. This same individual, according to a source who’s unsure, said the same person during the last election cycle attended our County Republican Party’s Reagan Day Dinner, which I was told “raised a lot of eyebrows.”
Now, you may be asking why I’m not using names, why allege something without giving us any names. The answer is simple, the article isn’t a hit piece against one or two individuals, in fact, it’s a hit piece against Nonpartisan Elections. On the surface, the idea of Nonpartisan Elections is great, but in areas that are deeply Republican or Democrat, they create a situation in which candidates lie even more than they normally would, just to get elected. You may be saying, well, that’s just using good strategy in order to get elected and you would be correct, but it’s the constant lying that creates more problems and why people don’t trust most people who run for or serve in elective office. It’s this type of lying that keeps good people away from running for office or from even voting in the first place. Also, these individuals are usually found out and voted out of office, but not before the damage has been done. The bottom line, Nonpartisan Elections on paper may be a great idea, but the reality is human nature isn’t so honest and virtuous in practice, especially when it comes to politics.
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