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Non-Partisan System Explained

Non-Partisan System Explained
The Non-Partisan System is Scarsdale’s official democratic process sanctioned by New York State. It was developed as a grassroots response to several bitter campaigns fought between the Republican and Democratic parties many years ago.
The Non-Partisan System is committed to nominating open-minded and experienced candidates as individuals to represent everyone, without party platforms. 
The dynamic system encourages the active participation of all residents.  A Non-Partisan Resolution created the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC,) elected to nominate one candidate for each School Board member vacancy.  The SBNC is comprised of elected 30 members, each serving one three-year term, in staggered classes.  A Procedure Committee invites all residents to recommend candidates to run for seats on the SBNC, holds an annual SBNC election, and proposes amendments to the Resolution as needed, which are then put to a community vote. The Non-Partisan Resolution has been amended 33 times since 1965.
Each February, the SBNC welcomes — in fact, encourages — all eligible community members to present themselves to the SBNC for consideration. Candidates come prepared to answer several questions about their motivation, relevant experience, background, and skills. The SBNC carefully vets all candidates in confidential, respectful and thorough deliberations. By offering candidates a confidential evaluative forum, the Non-Partisan System fosters greater participation. Names of candidates who are not selected are not made public. 
Nominations for School Board are made based on an individual’s experience, dedication to educational values, character, integrity and demonstration of good judgment. 
The Non-Partisan System is not the only way candidates can run for the School Board. Under New York State Election Law, a person can run for the School Board through the petition process or by write-in campaign. Village elections are typically held in May. 
School Board members serve from one to two 3-year terms.
Under the Non-Partisan System, Scarsdale has enjoyed good, honest government absent the rancor of party politics. Trustees are not beholden to special interest groups. Positions are developed by listening to residents, gathering all available information and using good judgment to determine what is in the best interests of the Village as a whole.
SBNC’s non-partisan system is the right size for Scarsdale because it:

  • Promotes town harmony by avoiding divisive and costly campaigns;

  • Encourages potentially excellent board members to run, who might otherwise not subject themselves to a political campaigns;

  • Ensures that board members’ approach issues impartially because they have not committed themselves on issues during an election campaign;

  • Ascribes to the philosophy that better school board governance results in a better education for our children. 

A brief outline of the SBNC process is as follows:

  • SBNC member education

  • BoE members discuss the position before the SBNC

  • Each member observes BoE meetings in person or on video

  • Background reading 

  • Members of BOE speak to SBNC

  • Members agree to confidentiality

  • SBNC review, discuss and update any annual procedures and establish calendar

  • SBNC identify candidates and advertise locally

  • Actively recruit candidates

  • Candidates apply for SBNC nomination

  • Any eligible community member may submit a candidate application

  • SBNC member proposes candidate

  • Candidate “Interview” – responding to multiple provided questions

  • Detailed Due Diligence of provided and ‘off book’ references to get a complete picture of the candidate

  • Discuss and compare all candidates, deliberate respectfully and confidentially

  • Vote to nominate candidates to fill all seats

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