You see the signs all over the county announcing the candidacy of county and state candidates.
It’s these signs located on county property that are causing some concern not only in Rogers County, but in Mayes and Craig counties as well.
“Our office has received several complaints concerning campaigning on county property,” Rogers County Assistant District Attorney Barry Farbro told the Rogers County Commissioners Monday. “Almost all of the complaints have to do with vehicles that have signs on them on county property. We’re getting complaints from the public.”
Farbro was asking commissioners to consider adopting a resolution regulating where campaign signs can be displayed.
In a memo from Farbro, he suggested a few regulations to be included in the resolution.
One of those suggestions was to allow county officers to require county employees to refrain from filing as a candidate for public office while employed by the county.
Rogers County Treasurer Cathy Pinkerton Baker said that suggestion was too restrictive.
“I am not in favor of any county employees being banned from running for office,” she said.
Farbro informed the commissioners, as well as other county officers in attendance at the Monday meeting, that restricting county employees from running for office was merely a “suggestion” that did not necessarily need to be included in the resolution.
Although the main purpose of enacting the resolution was to restrict signage on county property, it also addressed actual campaigning on county time and property.
In the memo, Farbro stated any candidate shall not use public funds, property or time to campaign for votes. This includes county employees and current elected office holders.
County employees wearing a county uniform or name tag were also mentioned in the campaign restriction.
Both Pinkerton Baker and County Assessor Melissa Anderson said their employees know the policy regarding campaigns.
“My employees know the policy and are not campaigning,” Pinkerton Baker said. “It’s trying to stifle people in my office. It’s their right of speech. If they’re wearing a Rogers County shirt and constituents stop them in the hallway, I’m not going to have them say, ‘I can’t talk about that,’ and walk away.
“I strive for them to be personable when people come to the courthouse.”
“If someone asks one of my employees if I am running, they will say yes and limit the answer,” Anderson said. “No employee of mine will be rude to the public.”
According to Farbro, the issue of county employees campaigning for those running for office was to address active politicking on county property.
“It’s for those who may say, ‘Here’s my card, my sticker, my pamphlet.’ Not incidental contact on county property,” Farbro said.
The commission is expected to take action on the proposed resolution on Monday, which will most likely include the signage restriction.
Contact Krystal J. Carman, email@example.com