It’s January, and with a new year comes a new session for the Kansas Legislature.
About this time of year, legislators both new and old start sending up trial balloons for legislation they would like to propose during the new session.
Two newly elected legislators from Wichita have suggested a proposal to move city and school board elections to coincide with state elections.
Currently Kansas law sets school board and city elections on the first Tuesday in April in odd-numbered years. This will be a local election year.
Sen.-elect Michael O’Donnell and Rep.-elect Mark Kahrs, both Republicans from Wichita, would change the elections to even-numbered years.
The two soon-to-be legislators suggested the turnout of city and school board elections would be greater if they were conducted at the same time as state elections.
Their argument is valid. Although McPherson County has historically boasted voter turnout rates slightly higher than the rest of the state, elsewhere local primary voter turnout rates have fallen as low as less than 10 percent.
With more races and names on the ballot, combining the elections could bolster turnout.
Local government has more everyday direct effects on local residents than the many of the decisions made by the big wigs in Topeka or Washington, D.C.
Local officials are our friends, neighbors, co-workers and the guiding forces in our communities.
We owe a debt to them and the democratic process to be just as informed about local candidates, issues and elections as the races that happen every four years.
Furthermore, combining elections will save local governments the cost of running elections every year.
With political races drawing out further and further, the public is constantly bombarded with political propaganda. There is no time to focus on issues and the real work of government. Combining state and local elections would give voters a rest between the big political pushes.
Not every idea out of Topeka that is floated in January is a winner, but this one deserves some consideration.
— Cristina Janney for
The McPherson Sentinel Editorial Board