ATLANTA — A state legislator from Macon wants to allow counties the option to designate countywide offices, including county commissioner seats, as non-partisan.
As it stands now, only the non-partisan countywide offices are those in Georgia’s seven consolidated governments, including Athens-Clarke County, Columbus-Muscogee County, Cusseta-Chattahoochee County and Augusta-Richmond County.
“My local elected officials asked me to introduce this bill so they can more effectively work together and solve problems that matter to local taxpayers,” state Rep. Allen Peake, R-Macon, said in a news release. “Since Georgia has a long tradition of providing flexibility at the local level for self-government, I think this bill makes sense and I look forward to debating the merits of this legislation with my colleagues during the upcoming General Assembly.”
A similar process is already in place for school board members and probate judges, which presently have the option to change to a non-partisan elecion through a local act. Statewide, a total of 107 counties have asked to create either a non-partisan county probate judge and/or a non-partisan county school board, according to Peake.
The Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, the Georgia Coroner’s Association and the Georgia Association of Tax Officials (GATO) have pledged their support for the measure, the lawmaker said.
“Sheriffs’ Offices in Georgia have an unparalleled mandate to provide law enforcement and other critical public safety services throughout the state,” Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry, president of the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association, said in a news release. “Representative Peake’s timely effort to allow local control over the question of nonpartisan elections for local officials is a common sense approach supported wholeheartedly by the sheriffs. Partisan politics can serve no role in the manner in which sheriffs’ offices fulfill their mandate.”