Municipal ballots won’t tell you candidate party

sign with the word vote on itIn roughly three weeks, eligible voters in Juneau will go to the polls to elect three of our neighbors to our Assembly and two to serve on the school board (AKA, the Juneau Board of Education).* If you have already looked at the Sample Ballot, you might have noticed that party affiliation doesn’t appear anywhere.

Ever wondered about that?

It’s the law
In Alaska, State law requires every city charter to include a provision for nonpartisan local governments**, and in Juneau, our municipal charter codifies this in Article VI, section 6.5 of our Home Rule Charter.

Although different municipalities in Alaska interpret this rule in different ways, at the very least it means that candidates for local office don’t have a party listed next to their name.

What this means for you, the voter
At its most fundamental, party affiliation is supposed to be shorthand for a candidate’s values. We expect, for example, that a Democratic candidate would agree with a Democratic voter about the majority of important issues; likewise, Republican voters and candidates would usually be expected to agree.

Since we don’t have that available to us, Juneauites need to be a bit more proactive. We have to attend candidate speeches, ask them questions, and examine how incumbents have voted.

If you would like to send a question to a candidate about their position on any issue that is important to you, they have provided their contact information at the City and Borough’s website. For those candidates who are running for reelection, you can look at the minutes of Assembly meetings and minutes of the Board of Education*** to see how they voted on various issues.

So, now you know; see you at the polls on October 3rd!

– Mary, Website Administrator

* There are also two propositions on the ballot.

**See AS 29.06.320(1)(e).

***Minutes are available under the link “Meeting Materials,” which will connect you to a Google Drive folder.

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