According to an
article last week in the Washington Post,
Fairfax County (VA) Attorney fired one of his office's assistant
attorneys because she was elected to the council of a city within the
county, even though he and his deputy who deals with personnel matters had given her permission to run for office.
In a letter sent after the election, the county attorney explained the apparent
contradiction as follows:
“I apologize if you were misled by the apparent ambiguity. I have
never disputed that [Virginia law] bars localities from prohibiting
its employees from participating in political activities…There is no
right, however, under the First Amendment or otherwise that
guarantees that an attorney can hold public office.”
other words, you can run for office, but you can't win. However, it's not
a First Amendment issue, it's a statutory issue. Section 15.2-1512.2
of the Code of Virginia
expressly allows local government employees to
participate in “political activities” as long as they are out of
uniform, on their own time, and are not trying to use their position
to solicit donations or support. Included in the definition of
“political activities” is “becoming a political candidate.” Any
reasonable interpretation of this would include winning an election.
The only question is whether the office won may be within the
county, at least with respect to an assistant county attorney.