Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Sherbeuer, Edgar L.

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Political Science


Elections--Illinois--De Kalb; Elections; Nonpartisan


As early as 1877, the forerunners of the reform movement, seeking a way to divorce local polities from that of the state and nation, urged nonpartisan elections as a solution.1 Unfortunately, the vast majority of the literature has continued to repeat uncritically the prescriptive norms of nonpartisanship. Prescriptive statements are important to the discipline of political science but when left, untempered by critical analysis they can become disillusionary and cloud the challenges facing the discipline. This study employs a critical eye while examining the concept of nonpartisanship. The research for this study examined the nonpartisan election of Mayor and Councilmen between 1961 and 1965 in the community of DeKalb, Illinois, Semi-structured interviews were conducted with thirteen of the fifteen men who ran for either the office of Mayor or Councilman.2 The partisan affiliation of the community was determined by an examination of the Congressional returns for 1960, 1962, and 1964. The correlation of votes received by each of the municipal candidates to the Republican candidate for Congress in the preceding election were examined. A random sample survey of the citizens of Dekalb was employed to determine how accurately they could identify the municipal candidates' partisan preference. The objective of the research was to test the two hypotheses: the partisan visibility of the candidates for nonpartisan office has a direct relationship to their chances for a successful campaign; and the very nature of nonpartisanship can, and often does, not as the arena local intra-party power struggles. The study pointed out that nonpartisanship provides the candidates with a preference for the Republican Party with an advantage to pass the nomination stage. The study also pointed out that those candidates that were identified as Republicans and had a high positive correlation with the Republican candidate for Congress were most successful at the polls. The insights gained through interviews with the Candidates and political leaders indicate that both the major parties have used municipal elections to resolve intra-party differences. Thus, this study has shown that while the prime benefits of nonpartisanship were realized in part, an uncritical examination of Dekalb's municipal elections would fall to present an accurate appraisal of nonpartisanship. 1. Charles R. Adrian, "A Typology for nonpartisan Elections," The Western Political Quarterly, XII (June, 1959). p. 451. 2. Mr. J. Clayton Pooler, candidate for Major in 1961, declined to be interviewed and Mr. Ben Mattek, candidate for Councilman in 1963, died in office.


Includes bibliographical references (pages [62]-66)


v, 66 pages




Northern Illinois University

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