Ken de la Bastide
ANDERSON – Sometimes what lawmakers are considering to change election laws becomes all too obvious.
Republicans in the Indiana General Assembly are expected to introduce legislation to make the future of elected school board members a partisan affair.
Currently, candidates for seats on school boards run without a political affiliation.
Clearly, the reason is to keep control of school boards out of the hands of a major political party.
It has to be concluded that by having school board candidates run for office with the Republican or Democrat party label, there would be a benefit to one party or the other.
With the Hoosier State a predominantly red state in most county and municipal elections, adding a party label behind a school board candidate could benefit the GOP.
Would potential school board members have to run in the May primary of either party to appear on the November ballot?
Over the years, the election of school board members has been moved around on the calendar. For many years, such elections took place in the May primary.
Those voters not wanting to cast a ballot in a political party primary election could request a school board-only ballot.
The number of school board-only ballots can only be described as minimal at best — particularly in the election of Anderson school board members.
In the past the Anderson Federation of Teachers endorsed candidates. The AFT unofficially is closely aligned with the local Democrat Party.
Of course, there was no party label behind a candidate’s name, but the help of the then-strong Democrat Party organization had to be considered a plus.
There were independent slates of candidates in those elections with some candidates having ties to the local GOP organization.
For several years the school board contests have been moved to the November general election.
The logical reason behind the move was to get more people involved in the election process. More people cast ballots in November than in May.
Those elected to their respective school boards are there to represent local residents, set policies and serve as a watchdog over administrators.
With the Indiana General Assembly playing a larger role in education policy, decisions to have school board members elected as Republicans would benefit the GOP super-majorities in the Legislature.
A board member elected as a Republican might find it difficult to express opinions opposed to actions in Indianapolis for fear of losing party backing in the next election cycle.
Those positions should remain on the November ballot without an “R” or “D” behind the names.
There is already enough politics involved when it comes to school boards. Party affiliation would only add to the confusion and turmoil.
This article was made available through Hoosier State Press Association.