County Attorney Suzanne Hutchinson brought up the idea to commissioners during Tuesday’s regular board meeting
“If we start (discussing it) now, then it gives us enough time to talk about it,” she said.
Commissioners are considering the change for 2012 elections and want to have ample time before May, when qualifying time begins for the 2012 elections.
Probate Judge, Board of Commissioners seats for Districts 1, 3 and 5, and School Board seats for Districts 2, 4 and 6 will all be on the county’s 2012 ballot. Qualifying begins for these positions May 23 and extends through May 25, according to Pam Woods of the Gordon County Board of Elections and Voter Registration.
Whether or not the county will change the ordinance is still up in the air, as the proposal left commissioners with conflicted ideas Tuesday.
“In my opinion I think that as long as it’s not a conflict of interest you should be allowed to seek public office while you retain your job,” said Judy Bailey, Gordon County Board of Commissioners chairperson, “but you have to be willing to give up your position if there is that conflict.”
Commissioner Becky Hood seemed hesitant about the change. She said she was unsure if some county employees would be able to fill an elected position without having authority conflicts in relation to their day jobs.
Hood used the example of an employee possibly becoming an authority figure, as an elected official, for his or her boss.
The County’s current ordinance states under Section 15 that no county personnel can “be a candidate for public or political party elective office, in a partisan primary, general or special election.”
According to the draft of the new ordinance, currently being reviewed by Hutchinson, that part of Section 15 would be taken out and instead read, “Gordon County will not prohibit an employee from seeking election to public office.”
Although the edit would allow county employees to be politically active, it does come with restrictions. Employees would not be allowed to use County resources to campaign nor campaign at work, and those who do so would be subject to “disciplinary action up to and including termination.”