Nonpartisan elections panel to present findings to council on May 19

Committee chairman Rich Maddux will present a summary to council members on May 19.

The Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee has finished its work and will forward a report on its findings to Mayor Wendell Lynch and Hopkinsville City Council in the next several days. 

During a meeting Thursday night in city council chambers, committee members agreed on the last additions to a list of advantages and disadvantages to partisan and nonpartisan elections.

The Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee meets Thursday, May 5, 2022, at the Hopkinsville Municipal Center. (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

City Clerk Crissy Fletcher will incorporate the changes and prepare the final report. Committee chairman Rich Maddux is slated to present a summary of the report to council members at their May 19 Committee of the Whole meeting. The report will contain the committee’s findings but not a recommendation about whether the council should keep the city’s current partisan election system or vote to implement nonpartisan elections. 

Hopkinsville is among a small number of Kentucky cities where the mayor and council are chosen in partisan elections. 

In June 2020, city council voted 6-to-5 to switch to nonpartisan elections, but Lynch vetoed the ordinance amid concerns the public didn’t have time to learn about the potential impact of changing the election system. He appointed the elections committee in April 2021 and asked the panel to help educate the public about partisan versus nonpartisan elections and to explore “the basis for changing the present system.”

Over the past 11 months, the committee conducted nine meetings to study and discuss election systems and conducted a public forum with an expert panel. The public was invited to give feedback during a January meeting. At that session, nine people spoke and all were opposed to switching to nonpartisan elections.

Nonpartisan elections panel to present findings to council on May 19

Jennifer P. Brown | Hoptown Chronicle

Jennifer P. Brown is co-founder, publisher and editor of Hoptown Chronicle. You can reach her at editor@hoptownchronicle.org. She spent 30 years as a reporter and editor at the Kentucky New Era. She is a co-chair of the national advisory board to the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues, governing board president for the Kentucky Historical Society, and co-founder of the Kentucky Open Government Coalition.