Madison County Opinion...

November 28, 2001

By Frank Gillespie
The Madison County Journal
November 28, 2001

Frankly Speaking

Non-partisan elections for BOE is good idea
Superintendent of Schools Keith Cowne is urging the board of education to request non-partisan elections for the board. I have argued for this position for many months.
A non-partisan election means that the general election is open to anyone who wishes to seek the office. They do not have to qualify for the ballot by taking part in a party primary. They do not have to meet oppressive petition rules. They simply fill out a form and pay a modest qualifying fee.
Under current rules, a candidate for board of education, or any other county office, must become affiliated with one of the two major parties or collect hundreds of petitions in order to become a candidate. If they decide to affiliate with a major party, they have to take part in a partisan political primary to determine who will represent the party.
Otherwise, they have to collect hundreds of signatures of registered voters. The signatures have to be checked for accuracy by the election supervisor before they are allowed on the ballot.
This system produces two bad results. First, it limits the ability of independent or third-party candidates to qualify for the ballot. Second, it uses taxpayer money to conduct primaries for the benefit of private political parties.
Let us say that you wish to run for a local political office as an independent or as a representative of a small party such as the Libertarian, Southern or Green party. In order to qualify, you must file forms declaring your intention to run. You have to purchase a copy of the voter list for your district. You have to print petitions with specific language asking to be placed on the ballot, then seek the signatures of hundreds of registered voters.
This process is likely to use up most of your political energy and money.
If you succeed, you will have few resources left to conduct an effective campaign. That makes it virtually impossible for anyone except members of the two major parties to win any election.
If you decide to run as a member of a major party, you still have problems. You have to finance and conduct two separate campaigns if you are to win. First you have to run in the party primary. Success there depends as much on the party bosses as on the public vote. If you fail to win the primary, state law prohibits you from seeking the office as an independent or as a representative of a minor party.
The outcome of such an election is usually victory for the incumbent, and continued domination of our government by partisan politics, not the will of the voters.
We need non-partisan elections for board of education, board of commissioners and all local offices. That is the only way "We the People" can truly decide who will run our local government.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His web page can be accessed at His e-mail address is

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By Margie Richards
The Madison County Journal
November 28, 2001

A Moment With Margie

Ready, set, go ­ it's 'shop til you drop' time
I don't crawl out of bed before dawn eagerly for anything - not to see a sunrise, not to enjoy an extra cup of coffee before work and certainly not for work itself if I can help it. That's especially true if I've just traveled 300 miles round trip the day before.
But I make an exception to that rule on the day after Thanksgiv-ing.
For several years now, my daughter Miranda and I have journeyed forth into the crowds, the traffic and the noise (all of which I generally abhor) to officially begin the Christmas season in traditional female fashion - by shopping.
I may not have much, if any, money to spend, but I just want to see what's going on "this year" and Miranda, well, she just likes to be anywhere her mother is when she has a checkbook and credit card in hand.
She's seldom disappointed.
We started at our usual place - the mall.
Economic forecasts may be bleak and we may be in a recession, but we almost ran over several women coming out of the mall at 7:30 a.m., holding bags and dragging other packages bigger than themselves behind them. They were oblivious to the traffic, mindful only of stashing their haul in their vehicles and heading back inside.
Wow, we thought, there must be some great deals.
We did find several good deals and were checking off the family and friends on our respective Christmas lists when we ran across a familiar face - not just a fellow Madison Countian - but a fellow veteran day-after-Thanksgiving Christmas shopper, without whom the day would not be the same.
I speak of none other than my friend Louise.
I first spotted Louise, or she spotted me, while Miranda and I were in line, loaded down with featherbeds (on sale, of course). Louise was empty-handed and held a 50 percent off red-line clearance coupon. She was a woman on a mission, searching the store from top to bottom to find a qualified clearance item to use it on.
My child and I, on the other hand, were purchasing two featherbeds because we couldn't decide which one we wanted, and we reasoned, we could take the one we didn't like back, bringing about another opportunity to shop.
But not Louise.
She left that store empty-handed rather than make an unwise purchase.
I stand in awe.
I came across her (or she came across me) several times more that morning at the mall, me with my hands full of stuff I knew I might have to bring back later, she with little or nothing in her arms.
We left the mall and Athens area after noon and then came my usual Phase II of shopping day.
I always tell myself I'm not going to do it, but I usually do it anyway. I head into that great shopping abyss known as Wal-Mart.
This year's reason was to take back items that I had purchased the week before, having found
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