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Post-election campaign sign clean-up
November 12, 2012
During the past election season, people undoubtedly saw the plethora of campaign signs posted by candidates that covered properties throughout Crook County.
Once the election concludes, the candidates face different requests or legal requirements from the City of Prineville or Crook County regarding their removal. In addition, the sign removal process takes time and energy to complete as well as the ability to find all the signs.
This time, at least in Crook County, it appears that candidates wasted no time on the cleanup. Leading up to Election Day, local campaign signs were plentiful and hard to miss, but by Friday, they were hard to find.
Newly re-elected Crook County Judge Mike McCabe said that his wife helped take down signs the night of the election. It took her about two hours.
“They come down a lot easier than they go up,” he said.
Oregon Representative Mike McLane, who also just won re-election, needed more time to take down more than 100 signs, which were spread throughout the Oregon’s massive 55th House district. A friend from college helped him by removing campaign signs in Jackson County. He took care of the rest.
During that process, McLane relies primarily on his memory to find them all. The system isn’t always perfect.
“One thing is for sure – if I forget one, I will hear about it,” he said.
McCabe said he keeps a checklist, but even with that, he is bound to miss a few.
“You just never know when somebody is going to show up at the Republican headquarters and grab a yard sign,” he said. “We could drive around all over the place and every once in a while, we would see one.”
Both candidates likely received some help from the Crook County Republican Central Committee. Chair Ken Taylor noted that one of their members also went around after the election to help take down signs.
When it comes to removal requirements, City of Prineville code contains language that imposes a time limit.
“Campaign signs on private property that pertain to a certain election date shall be removed within 10 days after the election,” said Prineville Senior Planner Josh Smith, quoting the specific law. Nevertheless, he acknowledged that enforcement becomes difficult due to First Amendment rights.
“There is a freedom of speech issue, so what it really comes down to is presentation,” he said. “The ones that are not being maintained are the ones we are really concerned about — the ones that are sitting on the side of the road falling over, falling apart.”
Crook County, on the other hand, does not impose a time limit on sign removal. This past summer, they were considering a political sign ordinance, and during that process, found case law that said such time limits are a violation of both the First and 14th amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
However, the County prefers that candidates remove their signs in a timeframe similar to what the City code requires.
“It would be really nice if they would take them down within the week after the election,” said Crook County Clerk Dee Berman. “It’s considerate to the property owners who they have asked for permission to set their signs up.”
McCabe expressed the same view, saying that the signs are a pain and people get sick of them.
“It’s just kind of a courtesy to the folks who are driving and who have the property, just to get them out of their hair,” he said. “You got to take them down anyway, so you might as well do it and get it over with.”