I get a kick out of looking at political campaign signs … and Lord knows we’ve got a lot of them sprouting up all over Amarillo, Texas, as our state’s primary election is less than a month away.
One such sign caught my eye this morning and it brings to mind a question I’ve pondered for nearly as long as I’ve lived in Texas; that’s nearly 34 years.
Susan Allen is running for Randall County clerk. The current county clerk, Renee Calhoun, isn’t seeking re-election. I don’t know Allen, but I am struck by a message on her sign, which reads “A Conservative Choice.”
Hmmm. So, the long-pondered question is this: Why do we elect some of these statutory offices on partisan ballots?
Moreover, when does political ideology matter when we’re pondering for whom to vote for an office such as county clerk?
I’m not sure how a “conservative” county clerk is more desirable than a “liberal” one. How does one apply the duties of county clerk to fit a political ideology? Now that I think about it, I can come up with only one possible avenue: whether the county clerk would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as required by federal law. It is my fervent hope that I might be reading too much into that explosive issue and how it might determine whether voters will make a “conservative choice” in selecting their next county clerk.
The county clerk is responsible for maintaining records for county courts at law. The clerk also manages voter registration and serves as the chief elections officer for a given county. Where does it really matter whether the county clerk adheres to a conservative or liberal political philosophy?
I’ve wondered before — on the record — about the partisan or ideological requirements for a number of such offices. They include tax assessor-collector, treasurer, district clerk (which administers records for state district courts) and, yes, even for sheriff and district attorney.
Does it really matter if a county’s top cop and top prosecutor belong to a particular political party? For that matter, how does a Republican tax collector-assessor do his or her job any differently from a Democrat? Same for treasurer.
Perhaps you’ve known that I also dislike the idea of electing judges on partisan ballots. I won’t go there — this time!
I’m sure Susan Allen and all the other county clerk candidates are fine people. They all are more than likely technically qualified to do the job required of them under the state laws they take an oath to follow to the letter.
Ideology should be a non-starter. I damn sure hope that’s the case in Randall County.