Pulaski County Campaign Clothing Policy Questioned

Pulaski County CourthouseA campaign hat has led to a debate on whether clothing with political messages is allowed on Pulaski County property. The issue was brought up during the “Public Comment” portion of this week’s County Commissioners meeting, after someone was asked to remove a campaign hat during a county government meeting earlier this month.

Jerry Locke, a primary challenger for Commission President Terry Young’s District 1 seat, asked the Commissioners to clarify the issue. “I’ve just come from a candidate training seminar; that question was asked,” he said. “According to Mr. Murphy, it is legal to wear a hat or campaign shirts, as long as voting is not taking place, and also, not to do it on a Sunday. So we’re hearing one thing from you people; we’re hearing something else from Mr. Murphy. Where do we stand?”

Commission President Young replied that county policy prohibits campaign materials on county property. When asked for specifics, County Auditor Shelia Garling presented Young with a copy of the county’s employee handbook, directing him to section 5.15. That section prohibits county employees from taking part in campaign activities during working hours, using the county’s equipment to create and distribute campaign materials, and using county vehicles to distribute campaign materials.

Young read this section to Locke, but Locke was not fully satisfied with this explanation. “Unless I missed something there, that didn’t answer my question,” said Locke.

Young refused to go any further into the issue, saying, “I’m not going to get into discussion, Jerry. No, I said this is public comment, not discussion time.”

Locke requested to read the full employee handbook for himself. He was told it could be found on the county’s website.