By Randy Krehbiel – Tulsa World Staff Writer

A Tulsa firefighter campaigns during a city election in July 2009. [News on 6 file photo]
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.”

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Bill is the founder of SoonerPoll.com and ShapardResearch, a full service market research firm based in Oklahoma City. Bill began his career in polling after working on a major campaign in Oklahoma from 1996 until founding SoonerPoll in 2004. Under Bill’s leadership, SoonerPoll has become the leading public opinion polling company in the state of Oklahoma conducting more public opinion polls for Oklahoma news media than all other pollsters combined since 2006. Bill’s commitment to go above and beyond the AAPOR ethical guidelines of minimum disclosure ensures that SoonerPoll produces quality results every time. Bill has lectured at Oklahoma State University on developing polling methodologies, data collection processes, and advanced likely voter sampling techniques. Bill also serves as an on-air political commentator for Oklahoma television stations.

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