Nonpartisan panel working to mold findings into a report

The committee will continue work on the report at its next meeting in March.

The Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee has finished gathering information that will comprise its report to Mayor Wendell Lynch and Hopkinsville City Council.

It’s a process that might suggest comparisons to Mark Twain’s observation that democracy looks a lot like sausage-making.

The committee members have to decide how they will organize and present the information that concerns whether Hopkinsville should switch from partisan to nonpartisan city elections. The committee won’t make a recommendation; rather, it will present its findings about the potential impact of a switch in the way Hopkinsville elects council members and the mayor. The report will likely organize some of the information into a series of “pro,” “con” and “neutral” columns that look at issues such as the impact on voter turnout and minority representation based on the type of election.

Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee members
Rich Maddux (center) is seated next to City Clerk Crissy Fletcher as he talks to fellow members of the Nonpartisan Elections Citizens Committee during a meeting Thursday nightat the Memorial Building. (Photo by Jennifer P. Brown)

During a meeting Thursday night at the Memorial Building, committee members discussed whether the written report should include a full transcription or a summary of comments from nine citizens who spoke at a forum last month.

City Clerk Crissy Fletcher will be working on summaries from speakers at the citizens’ forum and from a panel of experts who made presentations at a December meeting. She’ll also compile observations from committee members on key points from the panel discussion, which also included a question-and-answer session with audience members. 

In addition to any written details from speakers on the December panel and the January forum, the committee report will refer to videos that are available from those two sessions. 

Committee chairman Rich Maddux said he wants to ensure that all observations gathered during the committee’s work are represented in the report. 

Citizens who generally oppose nonpartisan elections (or at least question the need to end partisan elections) have heavily outnumbered supporters of nonpartisan elections at the committee’s meetings and forums. In fact, among nine speakers at the January forum all opposed nonpartisan elections.

Committee member Dr. Darvin Adams, a former councilman, said he was disappointed that no one who favors nonpartisan elections has openly engaged with the process.

The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. March 10. 

Nonpartisan panel working to mold findings into a report

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.