FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Officials in Allen County weighed in Monday on the state push for legislation to allow school board candidates to run with a political party affiliation.

Steve Shine, Chairman of the Allen County Republican Party, said politics are already in school board races and that it was very apparent in the school board races that were held in Allen County in 2022.

“There were more signs up for school board candidates at the various polling places across Allen County than there were for Allen County Council or for United States Senator or for various other county offices,” Shine said.

Shine said allowing school board candidates to run with a political party affiliation would reduce confusion and produce more clarity.

“I think it would really give a more clear cut indication to the voter as to the political philosophy of the school board member,” Shine said. “Obviously, Republicans are more conservative in nature, and Democrats are more liberal in nature, and that transparency would allow people to make a decision based upon philosophical beliefs.”

Michael Wolf, Acting Director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics, said he could see multiple different perspectives on what could happen if this bill were to pass.

“It is true that partisan elections make voters a little more understanding of which way to vote, but critics certainly say that we shouldn’t be making this polarization appear in what is typically more community-based decision making bodies,” Wolf said.

Wolf said if the bill was passed, he thinks Indiana could see more mobilization and recruitment of candidates by each party, which could move toward more of the cultural issues being front and center. He says some critics say that could be a distraction.

“There’s a lot of school board meeting issues like busing and facilities and all these other kind of components that are not very partisan in their nature, but this could disrupt the kind of normal flow of school business, and fundamentally looking after a different community school board set of decisions,” Wolf said.

Wolf said another thing to think about is if school board races become partisan, it could become an avenue for a launching pad for further office, rather than individuals with different views coming together to do what is best for their school district.