By Randy Krehbiel – Tulsa World Staff Writer
Tulsans are split almost evenly over whether firefighters and other city employees should have been allowed to actively campaign in this year’s city elections.
Mayor Dewey Bartlett issued an executive order this year banning such activities, reversing the policy of his predecessor Kathy Taylor.
An even 50 percent of the 508 likely voters surveyed by SoonerPoll.com from Oct. 27-Nov. 1 agreed with Bartlett. Forty-seven percent said the police and firefighters should be allowed to campaign, with a majority of those saying police and firefighters should even be allowed to wear their uniforms while doing it.
The firefighters union unsuccessfully sought a federal court injunction against Bartlett’s order. A motion by the city to suppress an effort to enlist retired firefighters, family members and others to work on behalf of candidates supported by the union also was denied.
The City Charter bans employees from “an active part in any campaign for the election of officers of the city, except to vote and privately state a personal opinion.”
The charter provisions are similar to a federal law known as the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity.
“My husband was a federal employee, and he was not allowed to campaign at all,” said poll participant Jimmie Pryor. “We couldn’t have signs in the yard, which I thought was unconstitutional.”