Everybody should read Rob Christensen’s column from Sunday. He notes that North Carolina has long been known as a good government state, in part, because state leaders tried to take politics out of local government as much as possible. Most cities and towns have a council-manager form of government which means they are run by professionals, not politicians. The vast majority of municipal elections are nonpartisan and they are all held in odd numbered years which keeps them out of the partisan fray of state and national elections.
As a result, our towns and cities are highly successful and relatively scandal free. As Christensen notes, “North Carolina probably has as many municipal governments with AAA bond ratings as any state in the country.” In response, Republicans in the General Assembly have introduced legislation to make all municipal races partisan and move them to even years to run with state and national tickets.
The move is wrong in so many ways. It’s more Big Government conservatism. The GOP has decided it knows what’s best for towns and cities even when it clearly doesn’t. It’s adding partisanship into elections at a time when we need less, not more. And it’s interfering with a system that has served our state and its people well.
Clearly, Republicans in North Carolina have never learned the old rule, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” The move fits into a pattern we’ve seen since the GOP took control. In an effort to exert more influence and control over the workings of government, they’ve “reformed” systems that worked just fine. In the process, they’ve damaged our state’s reputation.
They’ve revamped the state board of elections and ethics commission and made judicial races partisan despite no obvious need to do either. They’ve redrawn municipal and school board districts despite protests from local residents and leaders. When North Carolina dramatically increased voter participation, they instituted voter suppression laws. In their effort to override Charlotte’s authority to govern itself, they passed HB2, leading to economic damage and national embarrassment. And the list goes on.
Republicans need to pay more attention to governing and less attention to politics. The damage they’ve done to our reputation will take years to repair. The success of our municipal governments has been a strength of our state. Instead of empowering them, the GOP is constantly trying to restrict them, inserting partisan politics where there was none.