County ponders campaign policy
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. The Garfield County commissioners are about to set in stone rules governing political activity among their employees. The apparent need for the policy surfaced after road and bridge employees asked for overtime pay when county commissioner candidate Steve Reynolds spent time with them before the election.Reynolds said he met with some road and bridge employees in late October to learn about road and bridge operations, not to campaign for office. But the employees who stayed past their quitting time felt they were entitled to overtime pay.Monday the commissioners put in process a policy that will lay out what political candidates can and cannot do in county buildings with county employees.As presented to the commissioners Monday, the policy states, “Political beliefs, activities, and affiliations are private matters of employees.”While they are not required to state their political affiliation as a requirement of employment, so too, according to the policy, they “are prohibited from using their official authority for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the results of an election or a nomination for office.”Commissioner Trési Houpt, who ran against Reynolds for her seat on the commission, had objected to his visit with the county workers.In a special meeting recently to consider the request for overtime pay and whether or not the meeting was appropriate, Commissioner John Martin said the road and bridge meeting was held to dispel rumors Reynolds planned to dismantle the department if he was elected. Martin called for the policy to clarify what constitutes election activity, although such activity is covered by state statute.On Monday, discussion revolved around the difference between elected officials meeting with constituents in county buildings to disseminate information and actual campaigning. “There is a fine line between the need for elected officials to speak with their constituents and political activity,” said county attorney Don DeFord. “It’s a close issue during election time, but elected officials have to perform their duties of office. If (Rep.) Salazar were to appear with campaign material and spoke about his opponent, that would be political activity.”While agreeing in principle with the language of the policy, the commissioners sent it back to DeFord to include references to state statues that govern political activity.Contact Donna Gray: 945-8515, ext. email@example.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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