Dugan, R-Carrollton, who survived three elections to finally win the Senate District 30 seat in early January, is working with state Sen. Buddy Carter, R-Pooler. Carter has bills in committee that would give local governments the option to make most local offices nonpartisan.
Dugan is co-sponsoring Senate Bill 8, which would give counties the ability to make tax commissioners nonpartisan.
Dugan said he supports making “service positions” including sheriffs, coroners and clerks of court nonpartisan.
“The clerk of court — what policy decisions is he making?” asked Dugan. “Does it matter if he has a party label on him?”
He said he does not support Carter’s efforts to make county commissioners nonpartisan.
“County commissioners, in my mind, should be partisan because they’re policymakers,” Dugan said. “They come together as a unified board, but they establish policy.”
Dugan said he surveyed several officials who would be affected in Douglas, Carroll and Paulding counties and had 100 percent support. He said the feedback he’s gotten from constituents has been roughly 70 to 80 percent in favor.
Less than four percent of voters in District 30 turned out for the Jan. 8 special election when Dugan beat Libertarian James Camp to win the seat vacated by Bill Hambrick last fall.
Dugan said one of the benefits to having nonpartisan elections would be cost-savings to the counties. In the special election he won, he said Carroll County spent around $50,000 to hold the election based on talks with that county’s elections supervisor. With a smaller percentage of precincts in District 30 located in Douglas and Paulding, he estimates that each county spent around $20,000 to hold the election.
In a nonpartisan system, he said, counties could have a primary election in which say five candidates, for example, run for a position like tax commissioner. The top two would go head-to-head in a run-off election to decide the winner.
“You get the same results,” said Dugan. “You get a pool of highly qualified people who are willing to serve and you take the two that earn the most support and the people decide between those two.”
Dugan has scheduled the first of a series of town hall meetings on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Senior Center in Bowdon.