During the Town Council's last public hearing, Sept. 28, the council passed, 6 to 0, with council member Ann Null "present," a resolution reaffirming the town's non-discriminatory policy.
The reaffirmation sparked public comment that by using Null's name in the last portion in the resolution, the council was taking away Null's first amendment rights.
"It disturbs me that Ms. Null is being picked out," said Ruth Tatlock, Herndon resident at the hearing. "I disagree with her, but as far as I know she never said those views as a council member, she certainly has a right to her own views."
Council member Carol Bruce explained that because some of her correspondence, including a letter to the editor in the Herndon Observer and in some of her e-mail correspondences Null signed her letters as a Herndon Town Council member, she was attaching the council to her personal views.
"When elected, we are held to a higher standard as a representative of the town," said Bruce.
Other council members echoed Bruce's comments as well as stated they did not believe the passing of the resolution was a suppression of Null's first amendment rights.
"There are no rules or personnel guidelines to give up first amendment rights," said council member Dennis Husch at the hearing. "Any proposal that should suppress a person's first amendment rights is not appropriate."
The approved resolution, re-affirming the town's non-discriminatory policy passed in 1988, reads as follows:
"Resolution - Reaffirmation of Nondiscriminatory Policy.
"Whereas, recent remarks by Councilmember Ann Null in public forums and quotes and letters by her in the local and regional press were discriminatory, offensive, and disrespectful of the office she holds and to the citizens she was elected to represent; and
"Whereas, the Government of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia preclude discrimination on the basis of race, religion, age, national origin, or sex; and
"Whereas, the Town of Herndon supports these principles and provisions.
"Now, therefore, be it resolved by the Town Council of the Town of Herndon, Virginia, that the policies and practices of this Government Body are now and shall remain clear and unequivocally without discrimination based on race, religion, age, national origin or gender.
"Be it further resolved that any personal views expressed by Ms. Null in any forum do not represent the views of the Mayor, the other members of the Herndon Town Council or the policy of the Town of Herndon."