Polk nonpartisan petition succeeds

POLK COUNTY -- A measure to make the Polk County Board of Commissioners seats nonpartisan will appear on the ballot during the Nov. 8 general election.



POLK COUNTY -- A measure to make the Polk County Board of Commissioners seats nonpartisan will appear on the ballot during the Nov. 8 general election.

Chief petitioners Dave Weston and Danny Jaffer, along with supporters, were able to gather 2,300 signatures in support of the measure. The signatures were turned in to the Polk County Clerk's Office on Tuesday, Aug. 2, eight days ahead of the deadline of Aug. 10.

The signatures were verified by Thursday. Jaffer and Weston said support for the initiative came from people of all ages, political leanings and areas of the county.

"We had a really good response across the board," Jaffer said. "I think this is an idea that people relate to intuitively."

Petitioners needed to collect 1,779 valid signatures to put the measure on the ballot. Of the 2,300 collected, 93 percent of the signatures were valid.

Signatures were actively collected in the West Salem, Dallas, Monmouth and Independence areas. Jaffer and Weston said the number of signatures collected in each area were fairly even.

"I don't think you could really nail it down to one place," Jaffer said.

If the measure passes, all candidates for open board of commissioners seats would appear on the May primary ballot of every Polk County registered voter. The top two voter-getters for each seat in the primary would run against each other in the fall general election. But if one candidate wins more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary, he or she would be declared the winner.

If approved in November, Ballot Measure 27-105 would take effect with the May 2012 primary.

Weston said he was surprised by the number of voters not affiliated with either major party he encountered on the signature campaign. He said they were all excited about the possibility of being part of the primary process, regardless of the their political views.

"They were Libertarians to the greenest of Greens and everything in between," he said.

Weston said the next challenge is keeping the measure in people's minds and reminding people to vote on Nov. 8.

"This is a real fundamental change in the way we do business," Jaffer said. "I think this brings us into the 21st century and is a step forward for the voters of Polk County."



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