MOUNT WASHINGTON – Democrat, republican, independent or otherwise – a new ordinance passed just in time for three new council members to take office has removed, at least on paper, partisanship from future city elections.
The Mount Washington City Council voted unanimously at a meeting Monday to pass the ordinance which establishes nonpartisan elections without primaries for the offices of mayor and city council.
Councilman Brent Wheeler was absent from the meeting due to illness.
The issue was introduced at the council’s Dec. 12 meeting and met little opposition during its presentation, with no one from the public speaking for or against the ordinance at its first or second readings.
According to the ordinance, the city will forgo conducting a primary for the nomination of city office candidates, regardless of the number of candidates running for each office.
The number of candidates with the most votes for the office in the general election will be elected, according to the ordinance.
Councilman Greg Gentry, a Democrat, sponsored the ordinance and said that his failure to get re-elected did not fuel his decision to address the issue at the end of the year.
“I’ve always thought, even before I ran, that I wanted the nonpartisan elections,” Gentry said in an interview following the council’s first reading of the ordinance Dec. 12. “A lot of people are in favor of it. But I think a lot of this election’s outcome was that people were voting straight tickets.
“I think we all had a fair shot because our names were on the ballot, but I think the partisanship comes into play in bigger elections.”
The three new council members taking office this January are republicans Larry Porter, Dale Walter and Dennis Griffin. The new members will shift control to from the democrats to the republicans, with incumbent republican Gary Lawson retaining his seat.
Democrat incumbents Lloyd “Shot” Dooley and Barry Armstrong will also retain their seats this January.
Walter said following the first reading that he doesn’t believe a city council is a place for partisan politics. He said he believed the majority of the council members were interested in serving the public, not promoting their political party’s ideas.
“I don’t think that it will be any better or worse for the council,” Walter said. “And I don’t think it will affect the residents of Mount Washington whatsoever.”