Salt Lake City employees can now get more involved in politics including running for state office, following passage Tuesday of an amendment to the city's Political Activity Ordinance.
The council amended an ordinance that prohibited city employees from being a political party officer or holding public office while remaining on the city payroll.City planner Chris Shulz, a Republican legislative candidate in District 22, petitioned the council in July to amend the ordinance, which also required he take leave of his job after the Sept. 14 primary elections.
The council's inaction had left an admittedly frustrated Shulz, who works in the city's Planning and Zoning Division.
"I'm elated not only for myself but also for other well-qualified and deserving city employees that can serve in public office to the benefit of the citizens of the city and the state," Shulz said after the vote.
Cindy Gust-Jenson, City Council community relations coordinator, told the council the state of Utah, Salt Lake County and West Valley City do not require that their employees take leave while campaigning.
The amendment includes some restrictions, however. City employees cannot hold a full-time elective office or a City Council position. Nor can an employee hold an office in a political party, except at the voting-district level.
Shulz petitioned the council to include language allowing city employees to hold political party offices, telling the council last week that Assistant City Attorney Bruce Baird was considering running for chairman of the State Democratic Party.
The council agreed to postpone considering the political-party issue. City Attorney Roger Cutler told the council Tuesday he has "serious reservations" about members of his office involved in partisan politics.
The ordinance was designed in part to prevent conflict of interest, Shulz said, pointing out there is no direct connection between state budget matters and Salt Lake City.