Muncipal elections in Evanston have been “nonpartisan” — conducted without political party labels — as long as anyone seems to be able to remember.

But city officials say they haven’t been able to find any record of voters ever actually approving the nonpartisan format in a referendum.

Corporation Counsel Michelle Masoncup says state law provides that unless the voters do adopt the nonpartisan model by referendum, municpal elections are supposed to be conducted in a partisan manner — with political parties nominating candidates.

So, aldermen will be asked by city staff Monday whether they want to move toward scheduling a referendum question to be placed on the November 2020 ballot to ask voters whether they really want nonpartisan elections in Evanston.

Given the overwhelmingly Democratic tendancy among voters in the city, with 88 percent of Evanstonians voting for Hillary Clinton in 2016, it’s not clear what practical impact reverting to a partisan model would have on the outcome in the elections for mayor, city clerk and aldermen.

But having a clear answer from voters help might clear up some of the confusion that plagued the 2017 municipal election over the proper filing deadlines for candidate nominating petitions and other election procedures.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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  1. When Ev elections became non-partisan
    As I recall, it was in the 60’s when Democrats began moving here in sufficient numbers to want to run for office and therefore put the party designation next to the name. So the powers to be then went to nonpartisan elections. J

  2. Keep municipal elections non-partisan!

    Am not sure what confusion “plagued the 2017 municipal election”, but I am certain that I like focusing on the merit of individual candidates without the overbearing presence of state and national parties.

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