LETTER: Seeking answers on Stone's bill
To the Editor:
Rep. Mike Stone's bill (HB 490) to make Sanford City Council and Lee County school board elections partisan defies logic. Voters want less partisanship, not more. We've watched partisan fights at the national and state levels that produce no positive action, only acrimony. We see these partisan fights for what they are — self-interested power plays.
That local officials and school board members can run for office on a nonpartisan basis is perhaps the only positive aspect of politics today. Putting aside partisanship allows local officials to focus on what's best for citizens and for school children. Why Rep. Stone wants to change that is curious.
Certainly Sanford city officials and Lee County School Board members didn't ask Rep. Stone to sponsor the bill. They were blindsided by his actions.
So who wants this legislation? Rep. Stone won't say other than "people" talked to him about it — what people? As Rep. Stone's constituents, we have the right to know who pressed him to sponsor this awful legislation — and why. What is the compelling interest that singles out Sanford city officials and our school board members and forces them into partisan battles?
Rep. Stone's bill certainly mystified me. Doing some research, I found similar bills introduced in Kansas, Virginia, Georgia and Tennessee this year (All have failed). In each case, the bills were identified as part of an agenda of "Tea Party" Republicans. Motives ascribed to those bills included the failure of "Tea Party" candidates to win nonpartisan races and the improved odds of "Tea Party" candidates winning Republican primaries. Thus, the move to make local, nonpartisan elections partisan is about forcing a political environment more favorable for "Tea Party" candidates.
Is this Rep. Stone's motivation? Is he doing the bidding of "Tea Party" extremists?
I am one unaffiliated voter who wants answers. I want to know who it is Rep. Stone is representing because he doesn't seem to be representing the voters of Sanford or Lee County.