Qualifications for office

On Wednesday’s Bill LuMaye Show, Bill and Democratic political strategist Perry Woods chatted about the run-off election between Wake County school board candidates Heather Losurdo and Kevin Hill.  Mr. Woods pointed out that Losurdo lacked “qualifications” for the office, whereas Hill had been employed by the district as a teacher, assistant principal, and principal.

According to Article VI, Section 6 of the NC Constitution, “Every qualified voter in North Carolina who is 21 years of age, except as in this Constitution disqualified, shall be eligible for election by the people to office.”  This applies to §115C?37 of the NC General Statutes, which addresses the election of school board members.  Why did the Framers of the NC Constitution eliminate barriers to elective office?  Obviously, they did not want to disenfranchise certain groups.  More importantly, it is an implicit acknowledgment that experience and credentials do not guarantee competence. It promotes the powerful idea of citizen-politicians.

If you ask me, diverse perspectives and experiences strengthen elected bodies.  Groupthink is efficient (see North Carolina State Board of Education), but it also discourages creativity, innovation, and enterprise.  It stifles vision.

That is not to say that all citizen-politicians are good and all others are bad.  But it does lead one to consider what it means to “qualify” for office.

Terry Stoops / Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies

Terry Stoops is the Vice President for Research and Director of Education Studies at the John Locke Foundation. Before joining the Locke Foundation, he worked as the progra...

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