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Nonpartisan Elections

September 20, 1985

It is surprising that an organization that so covets its own right to freedom of expression would deny that right to others. But that is exactly what you wish to do by urging support for Assembly Constitutional Amendment 7, sponsored by Richard L. Mountjoy (R-Monrovia).

In your editorial (Aug. 26), you state that the California Supreme Court has "allowed political parties to become embroiled in nonpartisan local and state elections." This pejorative statement overlooks the fact that your newspaper, labor unions, political action groups, pro-choice and pro-life organizations, and almost every other organization that is not tax-exempt is allowed to be "embroiled" in these elections. Why should political parties be the only exception?

In addition, your assertion regarding the history of such endorsements is misleading. Except for the years from 1980, when the Court of Appeals rendered the first decision prohibiting political parties from endorsing in races labeled "nonpartisan," to 1984, when the California Supreme Court lifted such restrictions, both the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee and its Republican counterpart have actively endorsed candidates for school boards, city councils, etc. Apparently there has been no adverse effect on the voting public.

If your position on our right to endorse is sustained, I would ask you to consider the following questions: Should a candidate for "nonpartisan" office be allowed to be a registered member of a political party?

Should someone such as Mike Antonovich be allowed to hold a "nonpartisan" office on the Board of Supervisors while chairing the California Republican Party? As with any other restriction on freedom of speech, the difficulty comes when one examines the logical extension of that limitation.

The Times has a fine record in support of civil liberties. I hope that you will recognize that your proposal to limit our freedom of expression violates that rights of all who participate in political party activities, and, therefore, limits the freedom of all people.



Wallace is chair of the Los Angeles County Democratic Central Committee.

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