One more note from last week's spring election. For political junkies like me, you'd think that seeing the steadily-increasing influence of the Democratic and Republican parties on local elections -- like for city council and school board -- would be right up our alley. I suppose some of us in junkie world get high off of a new area in which politics can blossom, but I cannot say I'm on board with this trend.
A few years ago, after the Democratic party finally figured out around the 2004 elections that the city of Eau Claire had a massive blue reserve -- namely, UW-Eau Claire students -- waiting to be fully-tapped, the party started to mobilize around non-legislative elections, promoting candidates for city office and giving them infrastructure support. In turn, the Eau Claire County GOP has started doing the same thing. Sure, Republicans will always have a taller order ahead of them in a bluish county and a royal-blue city, but you have to play the game to get your candidates elected, and one could argue that this year, the Republicans finally got members elected to the city council more in-line with the party philosophy (even if the county GOP did not actively work to elect any candidates this year).
Here's the concern: the polticization of non-partisan offices. We've seen this happen statewide with the Supreme Court turning into a virtual D vs. R affair. Even though I prefer to elect Democrats and those ideologically-similar, I'd like to think races to determine our school districts and basic city services could stay away from getting locked-in with issues like Obamacare and the Paul Ryan budget. Determining how to fund city projects and plotting curriculum -- while subject to different perspectives and philosophies -- really ought not to become a matter of red or blue. If a person wants to move the community forward while being fiscally sensible, that should qualify someone for election, not necessarily whether someone has a D or R after their name.
I plead guilty to a certain extent for applying that filter, but that's more out of a concern of the direction of the local electoral climate. That if I, a liberal, elect someone more-conservative, I'm doing the local GOP's part in getting their preferred candidates in local government (and a local conservative voter might have similar concerns about electing liberal-oriented candidates helping the Democratic party). It's idealistic, but the parties should remain out of city races. They have enough to be concerned with in regards to legislative races and beyond.