Nonpartisan election panel to seek expert input

Political science professors, representatives of the Kentucky League of Cities, and possibly others, will be asked to address the committee and the public.

A citizens committee will be inviting political science professors and others to help them answer questions about how nonpartisan city elections would impact Hopkinsville. 

Others with expertise in elections — including representatives of the Kentucky League of Cities, the Secretary of State’s office and a law school — might also be sought to address the committee and the public over the next few months. 

Nonpartisan election committee at a meeting
The Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee meets Thursday at the Memorial Building. (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

Members of the Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee agreed in a meeting Thursday to begin seeking experts who will make presentations that address key questions before the panel that Mayor Wendell Lynch appointed. 

It will important for the group to frame questions in a neutral manner, said committee member Tom Glover, a retired public defender and college professor. 

“You have to identify the question you are trying to answer, and you have to write it down clearly — in a clear, simple statement what the question is so the experts will know how to answer it,” he said. 

“That will guide everything we do, and you have to be very careful how you write this because if someone is partisan one way or the other, the way you phrase the question will often result in what the answer is. You have to be neutral in phrasing the question.”

Another committee member, teacher and coach Faye Hendricks said Lynch’s executive order creating the committee essentially spells out the questions.

For example, a major point would be to “clearly articulate the advantages and disadvantages of both systems,” Hendricks said, reading from the order. 

Former mayor Dan Kemp agreed. 

“The way I understand this, we are to try to determine the pros and cons of nonpartisan (elections) and what’s the impact if we change,” he said. 

After the experts are identified and scheduled, the committee plans to allow members of the public to pose questions during those presentations. Although the committee has been meeting in the Memorial Building, chairman Rich Maddux said a different venue might be needed to accommodate a larger audience. 

There were 10 people present to observe Thursday’s session. It was the committee’s second meeting since their appointment. 

A few committee members have changed since Lynch’s initial appointment of 12 citizens. Glover replaced former Chamber of Commerce President Kelli Pendleton, who is not serving. Another new member will be needed to take Rose Jackson’s spot. A work conflict prevents her from serving. Two other members — the Rev. Perry Greenwade and Tiffany Brame — were not present Thursday. Brame also missed the first meeting in June. 

In other matters, the committee agreed to gather information about seven communities that switched from partisan to nonpartisan local elections in recent years. It will also compile demographic information on a handful of Kentucky cities that, like Hopkinsville, still conduct partisan elections. 

Nonpartisan election panel to seek expert input

Jennifer P. Brown

Jennifer P. Brown is the founder and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org.

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