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This author thinks political parties injecting themselves into non-partisan races is asinine.

There are at least 5 reasons:

  1. It dilutes party resources which should be used for endorsed candidates in partisan races.
  2. It is not necessary to label a local non-partisan candidate with a party tag
  3. A good candidate will win the election without the party label, by working hard and connecting with voters.
  4. A bad candidate is not made good by putting a party label on them.
  5. The endorsing process is sketchy at best — is an endorsement by less than 20 activists any endorsement at all?

On July 16, the Carver County GOP went through the endorsing process for five candidates: Tom Workman, Jim Walter, Frank Long, and Vince Beaudette for County Commissioner and Matt Winterer for Chanhassen City Council.  A handful (read: a small percentage of the small percentage of the County that are GOP Delegates) decided to endorse Walter, Workman, Beaudette, and Winterer.

Incumbent Commissioner Tom Workman could not be bothered to show up at the endorsing convention. Former Carver County GOP Chair Frank Long was denied the Republican endorsement.

There were two very good commentaries in the Newspapers recently on this topic.  I have included them here to save myself from re-writing their excellent arguments. (Yes, I know its long, but its worth the read)

Commentary: Partisan endorsements in local races harmful, not helpful
by Cheryl Ayotte (who is opposing Tom Workman for Commissioner)
Posted: Thursday, July 12, 2012 5:15 am Chanhassen Villager

The Republican Party has endorsed Carver County Commissioner candidates before, but no one carrying the endorsement has ever won, and for good reason: these are non-partisan offices. Candidates that seek this endorsement seem to want a short cut into the office through a back door, instead of making their case to voters by knocking on one front door at a time, or earning the trust of the voters by building a positive reputation in the community.

County commissioners are different from legislators, they perform quasi-judicial functions: Commissioners determine land uses and grant variances where appropriate. Commissioners act as the Board of Equalization, determining when assessed values should be adjusted; Commissioners act as our Board of Health; they oversee our libraries, ensure access to the Workforce Center and implement the state’s mandated social services for the elderly and disabled; they maintain our parks and county roads and work with our cities and townships. The Board of Commissioners operates like a Board of Trustees.

Yet shortly after I decided to run, I received a call from the local Republican leadership, asking if I wanted to seek the Carver County Republican endorsement. I mulled the point half a second and gave my answer: I told him that I am a Republican. But I could not entertain an endorsement for a simple reason: By law the County Board is non-partisan. I am going to be a county commissioner representing a major portion of Chanhassen and Victoria. I do not care if the person I represent is Republican or Democrat.I am conservative in my views and actions. But I do not impose my principles on others. I respect others and take to heart what their needs are and work to do something about it. Anyone who knows me and who looks at the involvement of my family cannot deny my views about the military and service to country.

County business has little to do with legislative action as does state and federal government. We ensure concerns are addressed, federal and state requirements are fulfilled and county operations run smoothly. None of it is sexy. All of it is important.

Partisan endorsement for non-partisan offices is not appropriate. Frankly, I think it is silly. It makes the Carver County Republican Party look out of touch and overly political.

I believe a very narrow segment of Carver County Republicans are trying to manipulate local non-partisan elections. Voters see right through these bully-type tactics. For more than a decade voters have rejected city and county candidates endorsed by Carver County Republicans; yet the Republicans will hold a sparsely populated endorsing convention again on July 16 for 2012 races.

Here are the facts about these local endorsing conventions:
1. Such conventions are not representative of the people who live in the county district or city, because there is no awareness on the part of the general public at the time of precinct caucuses when delegates are elected.
2. There is not sufficient or complete notification to those who may decide to run for a county or city office.
3. Unlike legislative races, under Minnesota law, the ballots for county commissioner, mayor and city council may not designate the party of the candidate.

Partisan endorsements in local races are harmful, not helpful. Let candidates’ chances for success occur where it counts — at the ballot box.

Commentary: GOP endorsements – Con
by By Jerry McDonald (incumbent Chanhassen City Council Member)
Posted: Thursday, August 2, 2012 6:59 pm Chaska Herald

On July 16, 21 members of the Carver County Republican Party from County Commissioner District 2 called an impromptu meeting of the county delegates. The purpose of this meeting was to endorse a candidate for the District 2 Carver County Commissioner and Chanhassen City Council races.

I attended this meeting, not to seek any endorsement or cast a vote for any candidate. I went instead to speak out against a practice that I and many others believe is bad policy.

We believe this sets a horrible precedent for our local elections and is disastrous to the fair and measured governance of our city. The motive and goal of this radical, small, and single-minded offshoot group is to influence the current local elections and push “their” brand of candidate into public office. Their goal is to subvert the voters in the upcoming primary and eliminate choice for those who would cast their ballots in these races. Accomplishing this goal is misguided at best and dishonest on its face.

These partisans will tell you that party affiliation next to a candidate’s name gives you all the information you need. These partisans only want the candidate who will vote with the party 100 percent of the time. They want the voter relieved of any responsibility to get to know and understand the candidates and their positions on the most important issues we as a city face. They believe you the voter need to blindly follow their dictate. These 21 radical partisans believe they know better than you, the thousands of independent-minded voters of this city and this county.

In our current system the burden is on the candidate to walk the community and speak with you, the voter, and not hide behind a party affiliation and the platform that the party holds. The candidate must be able to tell you the voter how they would govern and how they would vote if elected. The city agenda should be set by the citizenry, not some political party’s radical members. You, the voter, should have the opportunity to ask questions of each candidate. The candidate should not have to rely on a label to supply you information.

Never should the response “Well the Party says…” be what you hear from a candidate when posed a question. The other argument put forth at this meeting by this small minority, was that all the other communities in the metro have endorsed candidates and as such we should follow the crowd.

Chanhassen has never been a community to follow others for the sake of following. This independent and front leading attitude is a major reason why our community is consistently a “Top Ten U.S. community to live in.” By making good solid decisions not bound by partisanship and a willingness to do what’s best for our community, Chanhassen has been a great place for investment, maintaining a AAA bond rating, unlike our federal government riddled with partisan divide.

Where this becomes become most dangerous and illogical is the race for Chanhassen City Council. My argument at the convention and before you the citizens of Chanhassen is that this type of political gamesmanship does nothing more than to bring party politics to the City Hall of Chanhassen where decisions become based upon not what is best for the city of Chanhassen but what is best for the party.

Our city’s most important decisions are never as easy, and being an arbitrary and rigid partisan does nothing to improve our city. Being able to address the specific needs of our city and citizenry before party loyalty helps our city officials evaluate the impact of balancing the city budget and maintaining the great services that our residents expect (e.g., water, snow plowing in winter, road maintenance in summer, trails, parks …etc) and be able to compromise and look at alternative means to deliver those services in a more efficient manner at a lower cost. Decisions based on party politics do not always result in the best outcome for our city and citizens.

A rigid party platform and blind obedience to blindly slash our city’s revenue and make unnecessary cuts to our city services is not what is best for our city. Our independently elected City Council has consistently made decisions based upon a city view of what is in our best interest, instead of making knee-jerk political choices and appeasing the will of such a small minority.

The bottom line, what happened on the 16th was an attempt by 21 radical members of the county Republican Party to decide your representatives, instead of allowing the voters to choose who should best represent them. This small group has decided that they will name our cities leaders. They hope that by slapping a party affiliation on their candidate that the voter will blindly follow.

I know as well as you the voter, that in Chanhassen we make decisions on what is best for all our citizens and our city. We don’t make decisions based on appeasing 21 people who wish to usurp the voter and put up “their” loyal brand candidate. These partisans hope to change our city so that it reflects “their” ideal government. Not a government of ideas and collaboration, but a government of party obedience and party service.

My hope is that you, the voter, will deliver a stark and loud message to these people. We the citizens do not take it on face value when told by our candidates that they are what they portray themselves to be. A good candidate cannot be only a guardian of your tax dollars they must also be a good steward of your tax dollars.

You the voter have the responsibility to determine what kind of steward of your tax dollars you want. You the voter must determine whether the candidate understands that there is a difference between doing what is best for the party and doing what is best for our city and its citizens.

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