School Board Campaigns Nonpartisan, But Still Political

Nov 3, 2016

Credit Lisa Ryan / WBOI News

Nineteen people are running for school board positions across Allen County this year, and they’re the only candidates who won’t have their party affiliation listed by their names.

Although candidates for school board don’t align themselves with a political party, many have backgrounds in politics. That can lead some candidates to associate themselves with political ideologies, something Allen County Democratic Chair Jack Morris doesn’t like. Morris says he saw the word “conservative” on one candidate’s yard signs.

“I took that to mean they were trying to inject partisan into it, and it offended me,” Morris said. “I would rather people look at the candidate, and look at what they wanted to do for the various school corporation, as opposed to their overall political view.”

But the Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, Andy Downs, says using words like “conservative” or “liberal” on campaign advertising is a way for candidates to quickly tell a voter what kind of school board member they would be.

“The races are nonpartisan, but that doesn’t mean that they are not ideological,” Downs said.

Downs says even if a voter doesn’t have kids in the school district, it’s still an important race, because better education means a more skilled workforce.

If that’s not enough of a reason to pay attention, Downs says it’s important to stay informed about anything using taxpayer money, including schools.