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Campaign signs draw concerns

Campaign signs are literal signs of the times, or at least of the November general election, and the Sunnyside City Council wants to do something about them.

The signs were discussed during Monday's city council meeting.

The discussion began with a comment from local resident Don Outhet, "I can't put up a yard sale sign but campaign signs are up everywhere."

Outhet encouraged council to provide information to the public on what is and isn't legal regarding campaign signs.

He noted that some have told him that campaign signs appeared on their property without permission. Other signs, he added, are leaning or have fallen over.

Councilwoman Bengie Aguilar confirmed Outhet's comment, noting she has heard from residents who have had campaign signs put on their lawns without their permission.

"They're afraid to take the signs down because they're afraid they'll get in trouble," Aguilar said of the residents she heard from.

The discussion also turned to sign vandalism.

Councilman Bruce Ricks said he has 18 signs missing or stolen. Councilwoman Theresa Hancock added that the six signs she posted around town have been found in yards other than those where they were originally posted.

"I don't know how they got there," she said.

Councilman Jim Restucci advised his colleagues that they are responsible for their signs - no matter who puts them in people's yards. "The PDC (Public Disclosure Commission) will come after you," he cautioned.

Ricks suggested an all-out ban on campaign signs. "I don't like them," he said. "I wouldn't mind writing an ordinance to outlaw them all together."

City Manager Bob Stockwell said the city couldn't do away with the signs all together due to state laws.

Aguilar suggested putting a cap on how many signs an individual candidate could post. Stockwell dissuaded council from that stance, noting, "Whoever has to enforce that law will be accused right away of trying to manipulate an election."

Stockwell advised that council could perhaps come up with restrictions on how large campaign signs can be. He also agreed to provide the public with PDC guidelines on the signs.

Other than that, there's not much else the city can do, he said. "In 10 days they'll be gone anyway and it will be a while before they come back," Stockwell offered.

. John Fannin can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail jfannin@eaglenewspapers.com

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