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Board backs partisan elections on split vote
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Effingham County commissioners won’t support any legislation calling for non-partisan elections of commissioners — even though the vote itself split commissioners 3-2.

Commissioners Forrest Floyd, Vera Jones and Phil Kieffer voted in favor of a resolution opposing nonpartisan commissioner elections.

“This is much ado about nothing,” said Commissioner Steve Mason, who voted against the resolution. “I really don’t see a reason to do this. If it was something that was imminent, then OK.”

Mason also said a vote would be split among the commissioners.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Jones said. “I don’t necessarily see it as a negative if we take a vote and it’s a split vote. It’s just how each person feels.”

“It doesn’t make a difference to me either way,” said Commissioner Reggie Loper, who eventually voted against approving the resolution.

State Sen. Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) introduced Senate Bill 7 into the General Assembly session Jan. 15. The bill was referred to the Senate Ethics Committee but has not been reported out of the committee.

It is unlikely that bill will make the floor of either chamber for a vote this season. Carter’s other legislation — bills on making elections of sheriffs, tax commissioners, clerks of court, solicitor generals and district attorneys nonpartisan — has been read a second time in the Senate.

The resolution adopted by commissioners states having candidates with a political party affiliation gives voters an understanding of a candidate’s core principles. The resolution also states that partisan elections would give another level of accountability.

In addition, according to the resolution, qualifying fees paid through political party affiliations enable the parties to take part in state and national party activities, and participation in state national political activities provides county voters representation beyond Effingham’s borders.