Do Political Endorsements Matter in Nonpartisan Races?
Candidates in Brooklyn Park’s last forum disagreed over political endorsements in nonpartisan races. A political expert says most races tend to have a significant partisan streak in them whether they are nonpartisan or not.
Do endorsements matter?
On Sept. 13, a collection of candidates for mayor and city council gathered for a forum at Brooklyn Park City Hall.
Each of the invited candidates are running for positions that considered to be nonpartisan. Technically speaking, local government is about service delivery — think of issues like street repairs, for example. But just because the mayor and council members don’t have partisan labels, some still run as partisan candidates.
“I did accept the DFL endorsement for city council seat,” said Christian Eriksen, a candidate for the Brooklyn Park City Council. “I don’t think that by not taking an endorsement that our core values go away.”
The candidates had a variety of opinions on the issue when it came up at the forum.
“I have been endorsed by the Republican party in the past,” said Jeff Lunde, who’s running for re-election as Brookyn Park mayor. “I currently consider myself politically independent, and the reason is, I am sick to death of both political parties.”
Most Races Have a Partisan Streak
For more perspective, CCX News turned to Hamline University political science professor David Schultz.
“In theory and in law, we are nonpartisan at the local level,” Schultz said. “But effectively, most of the races, or many of the races in Minnesota, really do have a significant partisan streak through them.”
Schultz says that by taking politics out of local government, voters would turn out who don’t necessarily think in a partisan way. At least, that was the hope.
However, Schultz doesn’t think that occurs anymore.
“We live in such a polarized political environment nationally. That’s kind of trickling its way down to the local level,” He said. “That I do think, increasingly, people do look at the partisan affiliation and ask, is this person a Democrat or a Republican?”
Schultz said people might ask that question because there’s a fundamental difference in how to provide certain local government services.
Take for instance, an issue like trash collection.
“Should we turn the garbage collection over to private haulers, or have the city do it,” Schultz asked rhetorically.
We’ll find out how Brooklyn Park voters think come November.
“I would challenge people, look behind the curtain. See who’s actually funding what for all of us behind here,” said Hollies Winston, a candidate for Brooklyn Park mayor.
Meanwhile, David Schultz thinks that for this election, most people are going to vote straight party line. So it will be a matter of how well each of the parties mobilize their bases to come out and vote.