Poll finds voters split on political campaigning by police, firefighters

TULSA, OK &#8211 Mayor Dewey Bartlett issued an executive order this year banning such activities, reversing the policy of his predecessor Kathy Taylor.

An even 50 percent of the 508 likely voters surveyed by SoonerPoll.com from Oct. 27-Nov. 1 agreed with Bartlett. Forty-seven percent said the police and firefighters should be allowed to campaign, with a majority of those saying police and firefighters should even be allowed to wear their uniforms while doing it.

The firefighters union unsuccessfully sought a federal court injunction against Bartlett’s order. A motion by the city to suppress an effort to enlist retired firefighters, family members and others to work on behalf of candidates supported by the union also was denied.

The City Charter bans employees from “an active part in any campaign for the election of officers of the city, except to vote and privately state a personal opinion.”

The charter provisions are similar to a federal law known as the Hatch Act, which bars federal employees from engaging in political activity.

“My husband was a federal employee, and he was not allowed to campaign at all,” said poll participant Jimmie Pryor. “We couldn’t have signs in the yard, which I thought was unconstitutional.”

Pryor said police and firefighters should be allowed to campaign as long as they are out of uniform and on their own.

Former federal employee Neal Kirkpatrick disagreed.

“I was a federal employee for like a million years … under the Hatch Act,” Kirkpatrick said. “I just think it’s the thing to do.

“I didn’t feel I was constrained. It’s part of the deal when you’re a public employee.”

Nearly 60 percent of Republicans opposed police and firefighters campaigning, but an almost identical proportion of Democrats thought it was OK. Two-thirds of self-identified liberals would allow such campaigning, compared to just 37 percent of conservatives.

Men were significantly more likely than women to oppose police and firefighter campaigning, as were those with household incomes of $100,000 or more.


Police/firefighter campaigning

Should police and firefighters be allowed to engage in campaign activities such as going door to door or making phone calls?

Yes ………………………………………….47%
No ……………………………………………50%
DK/Refused ………………………………….3%

Should they be allowed to wear clothing and signage that identifies them as police ocers or firefighters while campaigning in public? (Asked only of those who said yes on first question)

Yes …………………………………………. 55%
No ……………………………………………44%
DK/Refused …………………………………..1%

(Numbers have been rounded)


About the poll

SoonerPoll.com conducted the scientific telephone survey Oct. 27-Nov. 1. The question on whether police and firefighters should be allowed to campaign was asked of 508 likely Tulsa voters. The margin of error on this question is plus or minus 4.34 percentage points.

The question on whether police and firefighters should be allowed to wear their uniforms while campaigning was asked only of the 236 people who answered yes on the first question. The margin of error on this question is plus or minus 6.4 percentage points.

The poll is sponsored by the Tulsa World.

From The Tulsa World.