Some say the legislation could weaken local government’s ability to make decisions for its own community, or “home rule,” while others say it is needed to better reflect the county’s political makeup.
In a called meeting Monday morning, the commission voted along party lines 3-2 to oppose the bill.
Commission Chairman Tom Worthan, District 3 Commissioner Mike Mulcare and District 4 Commissioner Ann Jones Guider, all Republicans, voted to oppose the proposed bill. District 1 Commissioner Henry Mitchell and District 2 Commissioner Kelly Robinson, both Democrats, voted to support it.
The proposed legislation would replace the current process that calls for appointment of one member of the Democratic Party, one member of the Republican Party, one appointee from the senior superior court judge, one person appointed by the county commission chairman and one chosen by the county commission members.
Currently, there are four Republicans and one Democrat on the elections board.
Under the proposal, two members would be appointed by the Douglas County Democratic Party, two by the Douglas County Republican Party and one appointed by the Douglas County state legislative delegation – which has a Democratic majority.
The 13 residents who gave comments were split in their opinions, with those identifying as Democrats wanting a more equitable division based on recent census demographics.
Ralph Mims said the issue to him was one of “fairness and longevity.” “The key thing here is 20 to 25 years ago you could not have been elected dog catcher if you were a Republican.”
He suggested that the elections board should be based on the demographics of the community and “everyone should be represented.”
Terry Baggett spoke in favor of the resolution. “The state is trying to control home rule,” said Baggett. “It appears to be self-legislation of the few. There is no compelling reason for the state body to make legislation against home rule.”