Opinion Columns & Blogs

State left door open to partisan city elections

When the 2015 Legislature voted to move municipal elections from spring to fall of odd-numbered years, it kept them nonpartisan, right? Not exactly. The law says: “City elections shall be nonpartisan or partisan as determined by the governing body.” Erik Sartorius, executive director of the League of Kansas Municipalities, told The Eagle editorial board that this local discretion is not new but that, to LKM’s knowledge, no local partisan elections have been held since the early 2000s (in Overland Park). Many would argue that city councils and commissions already are partisan in practice, even if no one uses elephants or donkeys in campaigns. But few likely realize that the Wichita City Council could vote on its own to make partisanship the rule. If so, campaigns would be less about issues and qualifications and more about party money and loyalty. – Rhonda Holman