Keep elections in Maury County free, independent, nonpartisan

[Recently, Greg Hanners of Maury County submitted this letter in response to the decision by county Republicans to have a nominating convention for local candidates.]

Dear Editor:

For the majority of the last century, Tennessee state government was mostly controlled by Democrats, and it had been for the most part since Reconstruction.

Despite the overwhelming number of Democrats throughout the state, our local elections remained non-partisan in living memory.

The Democratic Party saw no reason to force everyone to put a big “D” next to their name, since party membership really doesn’t play a role in the job of sheriff, county mayor or any other county-level official.

The old folks thought the voters of Maury County should pick the best person with the best ideas that could bring good jobs, support our schools, improve our roads, and so forth.

While the Maury County Democrats still support judging a candidate based on their merits, the local Republicans prefer party politics that alienate voters. While local Republicans did abandon — for the moment — the expensive local primary election, they are going to have a nominating convention for local candidates.

The problem with changing to partisan local elections, as the Maury County Republican Party wants us all to do, is that it doesn’t actually benefit the voters or taxpayers of Maury County.

The plan is nothing more than leading us back to a primary election system, which would cost an additional $40,000 each election cycle. They’ve shown us in the past, 2014 specifically, that they are not afraid of wasting taxpayer’s dollars.

The main reason, as near as I can tell, for the Republicans to want all local candidates to have to declare a party preference is to build their own “bench strength” of future candidates for state-level office. They assume that forcing the issue will mean most local candidates who get elected will be Republicans — at the very least, in name. That may be good for the Republican Party, but it’s bad for everyone else in Maury County.

While I understand some people get fired-up about national political issues, our County Commission cannot repeal Obamacare or balance the federal budget. My biggest fear is that bringing party politics into local county elections will also bring big money from outside our community.

Do we really want billionaire PAC donors from Florida or New York determining who wins a school board race in Maury County? Shouldn’t the issues, the votes, and the money for campaigns come from Maury County?

We can look to our Williamson County neighbors as an example of things gone wrong. Outside money and influence has already started flowing into Williamson County and some other local political races around Tennessee. It would be a shame for Maury County to end-up with our local elected officials owing political favors to out-of-state big money interests. That’s called plutocracy — rule by the rich — and I don’t care for it.

We need to keep partisan politics out of our county elections.

Support independent candidates that care more about Maury County and less about a political party.

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