There is presently a move by some folks to have non-partisan elections in Highlands. I have been here for both non-partisan and partisan elections. In the 1950’s and into the 1970’s we had non- partisan elections where groups of 3, 4, or 5 people ran every 3 years and the top 5 vote getters became the Highlands Council and the Council members selected one of them to be the Mayor. As I look back on the folks elected it seemed many were Republicans although they often ran together on the same ticket as Democrats. It was totally non-partisan and often the 5 person tickets were a mixture of Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
It was easier then to find people willing to run for office because all of the candidates really cared about the town and wanted what was best. It was not easy either if someone from an opposition ticket got elected he or she had a difficult time trying to get his or her opinion heard. So even though it was totally non-partisan underneath it was very difficult for the newcomer from the other ticket.
It was because of an in-party fight where the Democrats didn’t like the fact that one person was always the mayor (who was a Democrat) that they got a referendum to become part of partisan elections. And that is how Highlands became a 2-party system with the present elections taking place in November.
Some of the benefits of that system are that now we only have to have one election a year since we have combined the school board election with the general election. But there is a group of people in town who want to go back to non-partisan elections. The reason they give is that many people can run for office and not be tied down by a party. The elections will be held in May so Highlands will have to pay for a separate election every year instead of combining with the general election.
Unfortunately these younger energetic people have no idea what they want. They say that the Republicans and Democrats are controlled by the county parties and get money from the county for their campaigns. On the Republican side, I would state that that is totally untrue. It is nice to have people with more experience available to ask for advice, but there are no monetary contributions coming from the Republican Party, and they do not control the locals. Any person who wants the best for Highlands is welcome to interview and run as a Republican, but of course they would have to declare themselves as Republicans, which is not so bad. As a matter of fact in the last two general elections the Republican ticket ran 5 totally new people for Council and they lost. At least two of the people who appeared at Doug Card’s reception on the Highlands Blog were invited to run as Republicans but they refused. Would they have won if the election were non-partisan?
The other alternative is to run as an Independent, get your name on the ballot, raise funds, run your campaign and get elected. It is no different than a non-partisan election except that the Borough of Highlands saves the taxpayers money by not having a separate election in May. Also I have not seen a reasonable explanation as to why this would be better.