Campaign advertising by the Republican Party is the first in memory during a municipal election.The party’s district leadership placed an ad in last week’s CVN, endorsing some local candidates.
Municipal elections in Alaska are non-partisan; that is, the names of individuals – not political parties – appear on local ballots. The Haines Borough charter ensures that rule applies here.
One reason for this arrangement is to shield town elections from outside inteference. Another is that municipal issues aren’t generally partisan: Paving steets, operating schools and treating sewage aren’t patently Republican or Democratic questions.
Introduction of partisan politics is a distraction and may be an example of "wedge politics," use of extraneous issues or labels to cloud an election and divide voters for narrow, political gain. Sarah Palin once famously used wedge politics by injecting abortion into a Wasilla election, making it a litmus test of candidates although the issue was not a municipal concern.
Similarly, if the newspaper asked assembly candidates where they stood on Afghanistan, health care reform, gay marriage or the gold standard, where would that lead?
For 100 years we’ve chosen our leaders based on their character, experience, and thoughts on local matters. Bringing national parties or issues into municipal elections seems only to muddy the waters.
Did the Haines Borough Assembly violate the state open meetings law when discussing helicopter skiing in executive session Sept. 21?
At the end of the closed-door session, Mayor Jan Hill announced the borough would re-write its heli-ski ordinance, that it would not fine Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures, and that the company would have to re-apply for a borough tour permit.
Yet none of these actions were discussed openly by the assembly. State law on government meetings (AS 44.62.310(b)) says: "Action may not be taken at an executive session, except to give direction to an attorney or labor negotiator regarding the handling of a specific legal matter or pending labor negotiations."
The law is clear. The assembly needs to abide by it. -- Tom Morphet