Making Democracy Work

Scarsdale's Non-Partisan Systems

Casting a ballot in the recent SBNC election

LWVS Focus

The LWVS studies Scarsdale's local nonpartisan election systems for the election of school board members and for the election of the mayor and trustees of the village. Each year we review the elections held by the Procedure Committee of the Citizens Nominating Committee (for election of Village Mayor and Trustees) and the Administrative Committee of the School Board Nominating Committee (for School Board elections). The LWVS' most recent reports can be found on our Stand on Issues.

Mother & daughter, Renee & Diane attend a LWVS meeting on the Scarsdale SBNC

A discussion of the nonpartisan system can be found below:

April 2015Video of LWVS Meeting on Scarsdale's Non-Partisan System

Why a Nonpartisan System?

The intention of Scarsdale's nonpartisan system is to attract the best possible people to run for school board, village trustee and mayor while minimizing electioneering, money, partisan politics and agenda-driven candidates. Scarsdale's nonpartisan system allows the focus to be on bettering our community, rather than on running costly campaigns.

History of the System

Close to 150 elections for Scarsdale school and village government have been run with some form of a nonpartisan system in place. The nonpartisan system first started with the village government in 1911 after a particularly bitter partisan election. The system was formalized in 1930, and has continued to evolve since that time to meet changing needs. The intention at the time was to avoid corrupt town government that was prevalent in many town and city governments across the nation. In addition, it was felt that "the injection of politics into our local affairs can only lead us away from the high standards of unselfish service our Village has enjoyed" (Harry Hansen, Scarsdale-From Colonial Manor to Modern Community (1965) at p. 130). The non-partisan system was adopted for school elections in 1965.

How the System Works

The school and village government nonpartisan systems are separate but parallel. Both groups rely on a large committee of elected members with staggered three-year terms equally representing each of the village's five elementary school districts (Edgewood, Fox Meadow, Greenacres, Heathcote and Quaker Ridge). These two committees are known as the School Board Nominating Committee (SBNC) which recruits school board candidates, and the Citizen's Nominating Committee (CNC) which recruits nominees for Village Trustee and Mayor. The task of the SBNC and CNC is to nominate candidates for these positions. Once the SBNC and CNC have chosen their candidates, they are placed on the ballot in a village-wide election.

Both the SBNC and CNC start their work each year by identifying and discussing potential candidates. Candidates are then asked to run, although village residents may also volunteer themselves for the committee's consideration. Extensive, thoughtful due diligence is performed on each nominee by the entire committee. Finally, both committees meet with their respective candidates and vote on who will be placed on the slate for the general election. All Scarsdale residents may vote on these candidates, plus any others who choose to run outside the nonpartisan system. Although outside candidates are the exception rather than the rule, the system does allow for contested elections.

Running the Election

The village nonpartisan election system is administered by the Procedure Committee. The school nonpartisan election system is run by the Administrative Committee. Both election systems are publicly funded, primarily through financial contributions by residents to cover the expenses involved, including running the nominating committee elections (discussed below) and the proposal by the committees of candidates for village office and the school board.

Village elections take place on the third Tuesday in March. School board elections take place on the third Tuesday in May. In addition to voting for school board trustees in May, the annual school budget is presented to voters for approval. Voters do not vote on the village budget. Follow this link for the election calendar.

For More Information

Village Nonpartisan System

School Non-partisan System