The City Council is considering an ordinance related to political activities by city employees.
It is to come up for a vote on first reading on Jan. 7.
One section of the ordinance would substitute a new section:
Sec. 2-192. Political Activities - Restrictions.
No officer or employee of the City shall:
(1) Be compelled or coerced to make any contributions, assessments or other payments to any political organization or member or committee thereof;
(2) Be allowed to solicit any contribution, or to sell any ticket, or to procure money by any devise from the public or any member thereof, or to solicit any other political favor, while on duty;
(3) Use or threaten to use his/her influence, because of position as a City employee, favoring or opposing any candidate or issue;
(4) Use any City funds, supplies or equipment for political purposes;
(5) Participate in any political activity while wearing any uniform or part of any uniform associating them with their City employment; or2
(6) Work on any political posters, mailing lists or other materials, whether written or otherwise, which are used to influence or attempt to influence voters, while on duty or while in uniform.
Another part deals with running for political office.
Employees are eligible to run for an elective office, including elective offices for the City of Chattanooga, so long as the employee adheres to the following provisions:
(1) State law prohibits a city employee from running for an elective office if the employee’s position or duties are connected with an activity financed in whole or in part by federal loans or grants, unless the election is nonpartisan.
(2) Before officially filing, employees who seek to run for public office, with the exception of elected officials of the City of Chattanooga, shall give written notice to the employee's Department Director or Administrator stating the intention to seek elective office and the title of the elective office the employee will seek.
(3) The employee's Department Director or Administrator shall immediately give written notice of the employee's intent to the City’s Chief Operating Officer, including a copy of the letter of intent from the employee.
(4) The employee's Department Director, Administrator, Chief Operating Officer and/or Mayor hold the right to place the employee on a leave of absence if it is determined that the employee's candidacy interferes with the employee's assigned job duties and responsibilities, represents a conflict of interest, or if the employee is found to be engaging in political activity of any kind during the performance of their job. If the employee wishes to continue receiving compensation when placed on leave of absence, the employee shall first use compensatory leave, then personal leave. When all accrued leave is finally exhausted, the employee may be placed on leave of absence without pay subject to the provisions of Section 2-163 of the City Code. Such leave shall extend until the employee withdraws his/her candidacy or until the date such employee is either finally elected or not elected; however, the Mayor may grant such leave for a longer period of time if requested by such employee.
(5) Should the employee be successful in acquiring the elective office sought, other than a City of Chattanooga elective office, the employee shall be allowed to continue City employment as long as the employee’s elected responsibilities do not conflict with the employee's assigned job duties and responsibilities. If a difference of opinion as to conflict occurs between the employee and the employee's Department Director or Administrator, the matter shall be presented to the Chief Operating Officer for resolution, and the decision of the Chief Operating Officer shall be binding on both the employee and the employee’s Department Director or Administrator.
(6) Should problems arise in the matter of City employees seeking elective office that are not defined in this section, the matter shall be presented to the Chief Operating Officer for resolution, and the decision of the Chief Operating Officer shall be final.
(7) Nothing contained in this section shall be construed to be inconsistent with any applicable state or federal statute or regulation that may provide otherwise, and this section shall be supplemental to any such applicable state or federal regulation or statute.