SOUTHINGTON — The Town Council has approved new guidelines on the use of the town seal.
The council unanimously passed the policy last week after a recommendation from the ordinance review committee. It doesn’t include any penalties.
After Democrats took control of the council in last year’s election, the ordinance committee took up the issue of the seal. Last year, Democrats criticized an eight-page Republican election ad that was titled "Official Town of Southington 2017 Election Guide" and included the town seal.
The ad also included "Paid for by the Southington Republican Town Committee" on the front page.
Republicans ran a similar ad three years ago, which resulted in some Democrats complaining to the State Elections Enforcement Commission. The commission in 2015 found no violations, but said the paid-for attribution should have been on the front rather than the back page.
The policy approved Monday requires approval from Town Manager Mark Sciota to use the town seal. It passed with little discussion and was supported by councilors of both parties.
“It’s a good safeguard of our seal. It’s not punitive in any way,” said Victoria Triano, council minority leader and a Republican.
The seal includes the state motto under an image of the First Congregational Church, the Rugg and Barnes Bolt Factory and the date of Southington’s incorporation, 1779. It was designed in 1942 by Louis Prevost.
Town Attorney Carolyn Futtner said the town didn't trademark or copyright the image and it's now in public use.
"It's impossible to take that back and it's almost impossible to regulate at that point," she told ordinance committee members when asked about enforcement.
Ordinance committee members believe breaking a town policy would cause public embarrassment, however, particularly for those running for office.
“If you have a policy, it’ll in fact catch most of the people,” said Zaya Oshana Jr., a Board of Education and ordinance committee member.