Party Affiliation For Non-Political Offices Like Coroner, Tax Collector Scrutinized

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala.(WHNT)-High-profile races involving the state legislature and governor’s seat took center stage on Friday’s qualifying deadline. But should the partisan battle extend to traditionally non-political offices like coroner and tax collector?

Party affiliation for lower-tier county positions in Alabama and other states goes back decades, and is based on tradition more than anything else. But critics of the system say it sometimes allows unqualified candidates to win elections on issues that have nothing to do with them or their opponents.

Madison County Republican Chairman John Como is among many officials in both major parties who wonder if party affiliations are still necessary.

“I suppose if the coroner is coming to service you, you really don’t care if he’s a Republican or Democrat,” said Como. “It’s one of those questions I ask myself…Should they be non-partisan? At this point in time, if the legislature said we would like to change the law to make it that way, I wouldn’t be upset over it.”

But whether there’s enough appetite for change is uncertain. Madison County Democratic Chairman Clete Wetli said he partially agrees with Como, but also believes that the power of┬áparty affiliation can often serve as a deterrent for public officials who overstep their authority.

“I think I would be in support of making some of those offices non-political,” said Wetli. “I want to make sure that the reasoning was right, and we would have to look at that specific piece of legislation and look at the fine print.”

Stripping party affiliation from any elected position would require an act from the Alabama Legislature.

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