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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Monday, January 26, 2009

Municipal Elections Around The Corner

The Clarion-Ledger reminds us in a January 24 editorial that Friday, March 6 is the filing deadline for candidates in this year's municipal elections. The party primaries will be held on May 5; any necessary runoff (or second) primaries will be held on May 19; and the general election will take place on June 2.

"... the 2009 municipal elections for some 2,050 various municipal officials in Mississippi's 296 municipalities."

Most of Mississippi's municipalities will indeed hold elections this year. Some of our special-charter municipalites, however, have their elections in other years. For instance: Natchez, our oldest municipality[1], conducts its elections in the spring of presidential election years.

"Those municipalities include 107 cities, 168 towns and 21 villages as defined by state law."

The secretary of state's Blue Book says that our 296 municipalities consist of 103 cities, 171 towns, and 22 villages.

It should be noted that, in order to hold a municipal primary in a jurisdiction, a party must have a municipal executive committee there. These party committees are deliberately omitted in some of our smaller municipalities, so that the general election is the only election they have to conduct. This, of course, sometimes results in candidates being elected with less than 50 percent of the vote (which is also possible, but less likely, when party primaries are held).

In the Rankin County seat of Brandon, almost all of the candidates in 2005 had filed as Republicans. But a Republican municipal executive committee was not organized, so, at the last minute, all those Republicans had to requalify as independents. Since the city was consequently only able to hold the general election, the current mayor was elected with 47 percent.

For the umpteenth time, I ask: Why do we need party primaries in municipal elections? If we changed to nonpartisan elections-- popularly called "open primaries"-- (1) voters would always be able to choose among ALL the candidates, (2) there would never be more than two rounds of voting, whereas there are now potentially three, and (3) no municipal official would ever again be elected with less than 50 percent of the vote. The great majority of U. S. municipalities have already adopted this more sensible election system.

Few if any of our citizens are now interested in this issue. However, some of them will get VERY interested in it this spring, when they discover that they will be able to vote for mayor or council member, but not both (Hattiesburg and Tupelo were two cities in which voters faced this dilemma in 2005).


[1] Natchez was incorporated on March 10, 1803, and Port Gibson became the second incorporated municipality two days later. Mississippi attained statehood on December 10, 1817.


Blogger Michael Morrison said...

Oh, good. Just what we need: more elections.

Tue Jan 27, 09:57:00 PM CST  

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