The Madisonville City Council had their first reading of an ordinance that would make city elections nonpartisan.
The ordinance was introduced by Ward 3 Councilmember Adam Townsend, who said the move would not get rid of the ward system being used in the city.
“We are actually just one of few cities left in the state that does partisan elections,” said Townsend. “We don’t deal with normal partisan issues that you would see at state and federal levels. It will make the process simpler.”
While this would not fully eliminate the primary election process, Townsend said if only two candidates are nominated in a certain ward, they would go straight to the general election.
A similar ordinance was introduced in 2014 but did not pass.
Ward 5 Councilmember Frank Stevenson said there is a significant difference in this proposed ordinance compared to the one introduced in 2014.
“There was a proposal some years back to move to a nonpartisan as opposed to a partisan election for council members,” he said. “The primary objection registered by citizens at that time was that there were two ways you could do this under the statute and the previous one eliminated the primary.”
Stevenson said this proposal still had the potential for a primary, depending on how many people ran for the office.
“This proposal still has the potential for a primary if there are more than two candidates filing for the ward office,” he said. “This preserves the citizens of that ward’s ability to have a voice of who goes to the ballot in the general election.
“The previous proposal didn’t have that opportunity,” he said. “If there were three or four or five candidates, they all went to the general election, and that was objectionable because the primary allowed the sorting of who goes to represent the ward to the ward itself in a primary. That is not necessary under the statute here proposed if there are only two candidates that file in the first place.”
The next Madisonville City Council meeting is set for Sept. 20 with the second reading expected to be on the agenda. Also expected on the agenda is an ordinance that would grant pay raises for all city officials elected in the general election in 2022.