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Council Mulls Over Election Sign Ordinance

By Eric Licas
The Review

City Councilmembers this week continued a discussion on a proposed ordinance that would create new restrictions on when and where residents can post political campaign signs.

The earliest version of the proposal would have made it illegal to place political signs on public property, which includes parkways between sidewalks and curbs. It also would have allowed residents to display one sign per campaign race or ballot initiative per plot of land.

The ordinance was first brought up on June 18. At that time, Councilman Jon Primuth said limiting the number of signs would be unfair to people living in apartments who may have a variety of political views. The councilman also pointed out that traditionally, the vast majority of signs have been put up on public parkways.

The version of the ordinance reviewed by council last week has now eliminated restrictions on the quantity of signs that can be placed on someone’s property. It also included a compromise that would allow people to put signs on public parkways, but only those that are directly in front of their property.

However, councilmembers took issue with the proposed time element, which called for signs only allowed to be displayed up to 35 days before an election and two days afterward. During public comment, Sheila Rossi said that time frame does not take into account the fact that mail-in ballots go out six weeks before the election, and can be submitted much sooner than Election Day.

“I’m really confused where this measure is coming from and why we’re even considering it,” Rossi said. “It seems like the city is running an HOA, and I’m not sure that’s what we really want our government to be doing.”

Primuth, Councilwoman Janet Braun and others seemed to understand her point regarding the ordinance’s time frame. Council asked city staff to amend the window, and also to research whether the ordinance may already overlap with existing state or federal law. They plan to revisit the issue with more information.

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