ROCKLAND — The city’s attorney said Mayor Ed Glaser did not violate any law by writing a letter to the editor in support of a candidate for City Council.

Glaser came under criticism from several citizens for writing a letter to the editor last week in support of Councilor Nate Davis who is seeking re-election. The critics claimed that Glaser violated a city ordinance that prohibits councilors from interfering or influencing elections.

Those critics included supporters of candidates other than Davis.

City Attorney Mary Costigan issued her opinion Wednesday, Oct. 26.

“The same rationale applies to all matters on a City or state ballot. The opinion of the attorney general was that local officials can state how they intend to vote on a particular issue. It is seen simply as disseminating information. In addition, the AG found that partisan political activity, where you are urging others to vote a particular way, is permitted only it if is on your own time and on your own dime. Partisan advocacy is not permitted unless privately funded and done on an official’s own time. Thus, you cannot spend City funds or use City resources in support of partisan activity,” Costigan stated.

The city attorney said the language of Rockland’s ordinance is consistent with the Attorney General’s opinion.

“Thus — on your own time and own dime, partisan political activity is permitted. The Ordinance is intended to prohibit a Councilor from using their official position to influence or interfere with an election. The intent is not to prohibit them from expressing opinions or preferences related to elections or other ballot initiatives,” Costigan stated.

Her opinion is the same as one of the two remaining members of the Rockland Charter Commission that developed the city’s charter in the mid-1970s. That Commission discussed the need for a code of ethics which was later approved by the City Council.

Brian Harden said the intent of the ordinance was not to prevent a City Councilor from participating in the political system. Harden said his opinion is that Glaser’s letter did not violate the ordinance based on the intent of the Commission.

The ordinance in question states, “No City Councilor shall participate in any political activity which would be in conflict or incompatible with the performance of his or her official functions and duties for the city. In conjunction therewith: No City Councilor may use his official authority or position for the purpose of influencing or interfering or affecting the results of any election, nor shall he solicit any funds or contributions or accept or receive funds or contributions from City employees for political purposes. No City Councilor may distribute pamphlets or handbills while he or she is performing their official functions and duties with the City. Nothing herein shall be construed to prohibit any City Councilor from participating in the political process in their capacity as private citizens.”

Glaser’s letter praised all four candidates seeking a pair of Council seats, but ended up endorsing Davis.

“This year, we are fortunate to have four really good city council candidates to choose from, and all of them would serve the city well. But, I do want to make one recommendation,” the letter stated.

“I have served the last three years with Nate Davis, and re-electing him to the city council would be good for Rockland. He is probably the smartest person to serve on the council in many years, and immediately grasps all sides of an issue. He listens better than most, has a vision for a better Rockland (that includes all of us) and at least as importantly he has a good heart. Being a good councilor requires balancing competing interests and ideas, and from my experience, Councilor Davis excels at that.