Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today said that she appreciated the quick final rule issued today by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) implementing her Hatch Act National Capital Region Parity Act by making D.C. a designated locality under the Hatch Act. The ruling permits federal employees who live in the District of Columbia to run for partisan political office in local elections as independents. Federal employees in the region have had this right since the 1940s, including federal employees who live in 75 Maryland and Virginia cities and towns. The purpose of Norton's bill and this new right for D.C. residents is to avoid limiting citizen participation in local governments in jurisdictions with large numbers of federal employees. Until Norton's bill, OPM did not have the authority to permit federal employees living in the District to seek local partisan office, because the city did not have self-government or local elections when OPM was given this authority for Maryland and Virginia. The final rule is effective December 9, 2013.
"Since the passage of the Home Rule Act of 1973, the District has had local elections and a home-rule government, and now, with OPM's ruling, the city's federal employees who want to serve the public as elected officials will be treated equally," said Norton. "Not only is this a victory for the federal employees who now have the opportunity to participate in our representative democracy, but the District will also benefit from the participation of these dedicated public servants in the local political life of the city."
Last year, after a 21-year fight for D.C. equality under the Hatch Act, Norton's D.C. Hatch Act Reform Act was also signed into law. Norton's bill requires that D.C. government employees be treated the same as all other state and local government employees under the Hatch Act. Previously, D.C. government employees had been treated as federal employees under the Hatch Act.