The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

13 February 2005

Party all the time

Me, on the recent school-board election:

I do, however, take a dim view of the GOP's failure to comprehend the meaning of a "nonpartisan" ballot.

The Oklahoman, in an editorial last month, characterized this sort of thing as "improper etiquette," thereby condemning the practice while suggesting that its infringement is among the more minor of peccadillos.

This morning in an op-ed, five former Oklahoma City mayors expand on this premise:

All of us are proud of our city's great progress. We believe it is because the people of Oklahoma City — Democrats, Republicans and independents — have been willing to work together. Certainly, there is a place for partisan politics, but it is not at City Hall.

Partisan politics and city government don't mix. The city provides basic services. Police and fire protection, water and sewer service and streets know no political affiliation. As longtime New York Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia famously said, "There is no partisan — Democratic or Republican — way to fill a pothole."

The philosophical differences that separate Republicans and Democrats rarely affect the decisions made to provide the fundamental services of the city.

And the bottom line, as they see it:

We are very proud to have been a part of all this progress and we are deeply concerned about a disturbing trend that threatens to stop it.

The men and women who settled our city had the wisdom to understand party affiliation has nothing to do with city government. That's why our city charter prohibits candidates from using a party label.

We encourage candidates for city office and leaders of political parties at every level to refrain from interjecting partisan politics into city elections, as any such attempt will be nothing but destructive.

Signing off on the piece were Jim and Ron Norick, Patience Latting, Andy Coats and Kirk Humphreys. I think it would have carried more weight had current Mayor Mick Cornett added his name to the list; then again, Cornett, having been the beneficiary of exactly such actions to support his election, might not be in the best position to disavow them.

My opinion is as it was: if these are to be made partisan elections, it's fine with me, but if they're supposed to be nonpartisan, then the parties need to keep their noses out of the proceedings. Period.

Posted at 9:13 AM to City Scene