Party Affiliation Can Be Irrelevant

Political party affiliation ought not to matter as much in local government as it does at the state and federal levels. Many people not aware of how city council members and county commissioners are registered might have difficulty guessing whether they are Democrats or Republicans.

When the issue is which street to pave or whether the budget can stand pay raises for sheriff’s deputies, political ideology matters much less than common sense, after all.

But to some, Republican and Democrat labels seem to matter a lot.

Last week, Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Gentile revealed he has switched his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. It appears he had been registered as a Democrat for about eight years.

County Democrat Party Chairman John Abdalla’s reaction was that Gentile’s action “shows his true colors.”

But Gentile’s fellow commissioners, Democrat Thomas Graham and Republican David Maple, adopted the appropriate attitude – ho-hum, in effect. Both agreed party politics and ideologies are not involved in commissioners’ work.

“All three of us have the best interests of the county” at heart,?Graham said, adding, “All three of us work together.”

Good. Graham and Maple have their priorities straight. What matters in local government is that officeholders serve their constituents as well as possible – not whether they are Democrats or Republicans. That, not party labels, is what should matter at election time.