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Should constitutional offices have a party identification?


Members of the state Senate are debating a bill that would change how local candidates appear on the ballot.

Your local commissioner of revenue appears on your ballot without a party identification. Even if they've won a primary, these constitutional officers like sheriffs or prosecutors; they’re not identified as a Democrat or as a Republican.

Senator Creigh Deeds is a Democrat from Bath County who says that’s the way it should be.

"People that do that kind of work; it's not really a partisan job," Deeds argues. "And, in a lot of rural communities, most people run independently. Sometimes they're Democrats. Sometimes they're Republicans. You know that but it doesn't matter in the way they conduct the business of the people on the job."

Senator Lionell Spruill is a Democrat from Chesapeake who disagrees. He has a bill that would add party identification to all the constitutional offices.

"It's time for us to stop trying to fool the citizens saying what I am. Don't fool nobody," he says. "If you want to get involved in the party process, then get involved. If you don't, then run as an independent."

His bill would not apply to school board members, but it would apply to offices that are outlined in the constitution as elective offices; things like county treasurer or circuit court clerk. Spruill's bill has already made it through committee, although two Democrats voted against it. It'll be considered on the Senate floor this week.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.