School board candidates in Surry County might have to declare a political party in the near future. A controversial bill is making its way through the legislature that would make elections partisan.

It would impact all three school systems in the county:  Elkin City Schools, Mt. Airy City Schools and Surry County Schools. The proposed Senate bill would change how school board elections are run there.

Right now, they are non-partisan. That means the candidate's party isn't listed on the ballot. Surry County Commissioners recently voted on a nonbinding measure to show support for a switch to a partisan election.

This week, Senate leader Phil Berger, whose district includes parts of Surry County, co-sponsored a bill that would add a candidate's party affiliation. The measure would also give political parties the power to nominate a replacement for a vacant seat.

Some local school board officials have voiced opposition to the proposal. Critics say the districts are doing well the way they are and making the elections partisan favors the political party in power at the time.

Supporters say it will help increase voter participation and give voters a better picture of a candidate's core values.

If approved by lawmakers, the bill would go into effect for the 2020 election. Since it's a local bill, the governor can't veto it.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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