FAIRMONT — Fairmont City Council passed an ordinance Tuesday prohibiting council members from wearing political attire while on city-owned property.
Fairmont Mayor Brad Merrifield said after the meeting that he would not want council to play a role in influencing people’s thoughts in an election, especially the general election on Nov. 3.
“I understand that if we didn’t pass it, we could be used to influence an election with being a council person or mayor or whatever,” Merrifield said. “That’s not right that we should have that kind of power to do that, or the perception of it.”
Council Member Barry Bledsoe was the only one to vote against the ordinance, and said he believes the ordinance limits freedom of speech.
“I still think this is an affront to freedom of speech,” Bledsoe said. “I don’t think it’s unethical to promote somebody that you are promoting in an election. It doesn’t matter what side it’s on.”
Merrifield said he understands why this ordinance was introduced to council, because it is a governing body already that has some influence over residents.
“When it comes to that, I think people don’t need us, or anybody else, for that matter, telling them how to vote,” Merrifield said.
In other business:
In her report, City Manager Valerie Means gave tips for a safe trick-or-treat in Fairmont, which is planned to take place from 6-7:30 p.m. on Oct. 31. Many of her tips related to coronavirus precautions, which she recommended people still follow on the spooky night.
“We want to make sure that everything is being done in a safe manner and that folks are as safe as can out there,” Means said. “Don’t trick or treat if you are sick, of course stay outside and keep things moving, stay in your own neighborhood.”
Means also gave general safety tips for the evening, so kids and their parents can stay safe in the potentially dark holiday while trick or treating.
“If you don’t want to participate, don’t go out and if you don’t want to participate, keep your porch lights off,” Means said. “Always be mindful of traffic, walk on the sidewalk or left side of the road; make yourself visible.”