Obey sign ordinances

Published 12:00 am Monday, June 30, 2008

The issue: Political signs have popped up in myriad public places.

Our position: Candidates for office should watch where their supporters put signs.

Political signs are ugly.

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No matter how colorful or how nice looking the candidate, the signs clutter yards.

But these visual warts are a fact of political seasons.

People have different tastes. Some want to show their support for a candidate and stick signs in their yards.

If someone wants to proclaim their support in that fashion, they have free speech.

As long as it doesn&8217;t creep out on rights of way or power poles on the corner or in flower beds maintained by the city or county.

But candidates need to remember signs belong on private property, and only there when the person running for office has asked and received permission.

During the recent county race, we talked to several people who have vacant lots by highly traveled highways. All of the sudden, big signs proclaiming &8220;Vote for (you fill in the blank)&8221; showed up on their lot.

Nobody stopped by, knocked on the door and asked for permission to put up the sign (much less asked for a vote, which should have been the first matter of business).

Now, the municipal race has started, although qualifying deadline isn&8217;t for 15 more days.

We&8217;ve spotted signs of nearly every candidate in some public spot, which is forbidden by city ordinance.

Last week, the matter came up at a Selma City Council meeting. One official said the city generally winks at the law and allows the signs.


A couple of council members had some pretty good ideas about controlling sign litter.

Councilman Johnnie Leashore suggested the city take down illegal signs, put them in a central location and tell the candidate where to pick them up.

We&8217;ve seen this work in other cities with similar problems. Some of those cities attach a fine per sign.

Others just tell the candidates to come get them.

These signs cost a good deal of money.

The Internet has a listing of them: one-color, two-sided yard signs for 95 cents each; one-color, one-sided yard signs for 49 cents each. The advertisements don&8217;t mention if the wooden or metal stakes are included in the prices. If not, that&8217;s another entry on the calculator.

Point: Not many people will let their signs just sit in a central location. Most will pick them up and some, in other locations, have paid fines for the infractions.

But Councilwoman Bennie Ruth Crenshaw reminded the public of another

issue: Many illegally placed signs rest on rights of way and power poles or trees because of ardent supporters who don&8217;t know the law.

She said she teaches her supporters about where to put the signs or she goes with them while they&8217;re staking out their sites.

Either way, it&8217;s important to hammer this home:

Political signs do not belong on public property.