Myers proposes more nonpartisan elections

February 23, 2011|By ANDREW SCHOTZ |
  • Myers

More public offices would be decided through nonpartisan elections, under two bills proposed by Del. LeRoy E. Myers Jr., R-Washington/Allegany.

One bill calls for the elections of the county treasurer, clerk of the Circuit Court and register of wills to be nonpartisan.

The other makes the same change for the sheriff.

Currently, those offices are treated the same as the county commissioners. Candidates run as Republicans, Democrats, with the backing of a third party or without party affiliation.

Myers said his idea is a response to questions people asked him about candidates during the last election. Party loyalists sometimes hesitate to vote for the best candidate if he or she is from the opposite political party, he said.

"We have to look at who is the best for the job," Myers said.

Asked if voters should be able to pick the best candidates without legislation, Myers said party politics can interfere in other ways.

He mentioned what happened in last year's race for sheriff in Allegany County, Md.

The Democratic incumbent pulled out late in the race and endorsed his chief deputy, a Republican, leaving no Democratic challengers in the general election.

That maneuvering could have been thwarted if the race was nonpartisan, Myers said.

Judicial offices and boards of education are elected without party affiliations. Those candidates may belong to a party, but the party isn't listed on the ballot.

Under Myers's bill, primary elections still would be held, but they wouldn't be connected to political parties.

The top two candidates in each primary would advance to the general election.

If there is a tie for the second-highest vote total, all of the candidates with that total would advance to the general election.

Myers's bills are scheduled to be heard by the House Ways and Means Committee on March 8.

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