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Nonpartisan County Offices and the Republican Party

May 26, 1985

Your article (May 14) on the planned ouster of Santa Ana City Councilman Dan Griset (Democrat) from his post on the Orange County Transportation Commission (a nonpartisan post) by fellow council members (Republicans) replays a familiar tune.

Although the state Constitution requires all local government offices to be non partisan, Republican local elected officials follow their Central Committee line by routinely removing Democrats from leadership positions on county boards and commissions whenever they feel that person has become sufficiently prominent to contemplate running for higher elected office--against an inevitably Republican incumbent.

In the 1970s a document was mailed countywide by the Republican Central Committee which called for the 100% domination of every school board seat, every city hall, ever special district, every county office (all nonpartisan posts) by the Republicans. The plan stated that it was necessary to eliminate any potential competition for "higher elective offices." The dictionary defines a group in power "which grants neither recognition nor tolerance to parties of differing opinions" as totalitarian.

The people of Orange County are not clones. They hold many different opinions and practice many life styles.

Recognizing that there is no Republican or Democratic way of paving a street, hauling refuse, treating sewage or piping drinking water, the laws of this state forbid party affiliation on the local ballot. One result has been to keep this state free from the machine-type politics practiced back East. It permits good talent to enter the local government arena independent of party politics. Voters should choose local candidates on the basis of experience, accomplishments and opinions on local issues--not because they wear an elephant button to the candidates' debate.

I do not suggest that democracy as we know it is threatened by the Republican partisanization of local offices in Orange County, nor by their drive for 100% domination. I do think that it is an abuse which needs to be brought out into the light. I find it ironic that the GOP, which espouses free competition in the economic marketplace, does not extend that doctrine to the political marketplace.

ROBIN YOUNG

La Habra

Robin Young is a former member of the La Habra City Council.

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