City commissioner wants to add section in about city employee's political activity.

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Editorial: Commissioner to propose ordinance section to restrict employees’ political activity

MARSHALL – Several important items have been placed on the agenda for the City of Marshall’s Commissioner meeting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 14.

One of which that has raised some questions will involve an amendment to an already established ordinance. This proposed ordinance will be brought to the ‘table’ by Commissioner Garrett Boersma.

As listed on the agenda, the item states, “Consider approval of an Ordinance enacting a new Section 12-18 to Chapter 12 to said Code, entitled ‘Prohibiting certain political activity on the part of employees.’”

The new section that is to be proposed for approval reads as follows:

“Prohibiting certain political activity on the part of employees.

(a) No officer or employee of the city shall directly or indirectly, in any way be required to contribute to any political campaign, political party, organization which supports candidates for public office, or for any partisan political purpose whatsoever.

(b) To avoid undue influence of city employees on the outcome of city commission elections and to avoid undue influence of city commission members or candidates for city commission on city employees, the following restrictions are imposed:
(1) No employee of the city of association of such employees may publicly endorse or actively support candidates for the city commission or any political organization or association organized to support candidates for the city commission.
(2) No employee of the city may circulate petitions for the city commission candidates, although an employee may sign such a petition.
(3) No employee of the city may contribute, directly or indirectly or through an organization or association to such a campaign nor solicit or receive contributions for a city commission candidate.
(4) No employee of the city may wear city commission campaign buttons no distribute campaign literature at work or in a city uniform or in the officers of building of the City of Marshall.

(c) Except as otherwise provided by law, in elections other than for city commission, an employee of the city will refrain from using his or her position or influence for or against any candidate for public office or engage in any political activity while on duty or while officially representing the city.
(d) Notwithstanding any conflict with Subsections (b) and (c) of this section, a fire fighter or police officer may engage in political activities to the extent permitted by Chapter 143 of the Texas Local Government Code or other state or federal law.”

No matter if this ordinance is being proposed because of politically-motivated reasons or not, employees of the City of Marshall do represent the city more so than most. Yet, a question has been raised.

If this ordinance is passed, would this infringe on any rights of those employees as citizens of the United States of America?

– This editorial was written to inform and raise a question  by Becky Holland, 

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