County councilman who works at highway department will get hearing

February 2, 2013 

— A Richland County councilman whose job at the highway department jeopardizes his political career will get a hearing after all.

In an order dated Friday, the Merit Systems Protection Board said an administrative law judge was wrong to decide without a hearing that the highway department should remove Norman Jackson from his job as an engineer and transportation planner. That ruling was issued in January 2012.

Jackson is still employed at the agency pending his appeal.

The board said Jackson deserves a chance to air claims that his rights had been violated by selective enforcement of the Hatch Act.

“Like every citizen, I have the right to due process,” he said Friday. “I have the right to an appeal.”

Jackson argued in part that the highway department reassigned Kelvin Washington, another County Council member, to ensure he was not in violation of the Hatch Act but would not do the same for Jackson.

It was not clear Friday when the hearing might be held.

Jackson’s salary comes from federal funds, so he falls under an election law prohibiting him from engaging in partisan politics.

Dawn Hinshaw

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