FREE COUNTRY: We live in a wonderful country that allows citizens to participate in their government, political campaigns and to vote. I support and cherish these gifts of freedom.
CHILDISH POLITICAL SIGNS: What I do not cherish is the juvenile grade school kiddie practice of posting campaign signs all over town. These signs are a visual blight and in some cases a danger to the very citizens whose vote the politicians seek.
I apologize to those who will rail against my next frank and judgmental statement. Any voter who votes based on the number and/or color scheme of a political sign(s) is an idiot and is too dangerous a thinker to be allowed to vote. That kind of voting behavior fairly well duplicates that of the voter who has had a lobotomy.
Signs tell us nothing substantive about a candidate other than who might have the most sign money and on occasion who might have a deceptive personality. Generally, we cannot really tell which candidate deserves our vote by looking at signs with only a few exceptions.
The sign game goes like this. The more signs a candidate can post, the more name familiarization a candidate can gain. The candidate with the most signs gives the impression that he or she is the candidate with the most money and power and in doing so tries to create the impression that they are the candidate worthy of your vote.
Dale Washam gained his post as Pierce County Assessor – Treasurer, in part, with a decades long game of sign posting. Some Washam signs were posted 24 / 7 for decades even when there was no election pending such as the sign on SR 512, that said something like, “Vote For Washam And Let Him Serve”. Look how that turned out.
I have even seen deceptive campaign signs where the candidate’s last name was emblazoned on the sign in huge letters, while the candidate’s first name was so tiny and in such an imperceptible color contrast you needed a magnifying glass to see the first name. All of that because the candidate’s father was a well known and highly respected politician. While the junior politician was not well known nor well thought of, he deceptively attempted to gain votes by riding on his father’s good name.
I can’t blame the candidates for playing the childish sign game. Unless everyone takes a united stand against signs, candidates are forced to post signs just to compete.
SIGN LAWS: Historically placing anything in the right of way including signs has been an unauthorized act. The exception is political signs. Yes, as is typical, politicians make laws, but always seem to exempt themselves from the rules they establish for the rest of us.
Politicians have the legal right to post their “Vote For Me” political signs in the right-of-way. In fact anyone caught removing or damaging political signs can find themselves in trouble with the law.
In some jurisdictions, if the sign has fallen over, it is considered trash and can be disposed of.
COMMON SENSE, COURTESY AND JUDGEMENT: While I lack the money and energy to change the law that gives politicians the legal right to post visual blight in the right-of-way, I am going to fight against politicians failing to use common sense, courtesy and good judgement in posting their political signs.
Any time I spot a politician failing to use common sense, courtesy and good judgement, I am going to react like The Lakewood Sign Watchdog. Maybe I should wear a cape.
Here are some of the common sense violations I will be looking for:
- Political signs posted in or next to areas that have been beautified by our city or the former Keep Lakewood Beautiful organization. Linda Farmer has a sign posted in our landscaped area at 112th St SW and Gravelly Lake Drive SW. If her sign remains others will act out of the pact mentality and post their signs in the same area including in the lawn, causing a beautiful area to be trashed. Politicians give no thought to the safety and convenience for landscapers who must deal with trying to do their job with the impediment of all the signs in their work area. There is plenty of undeveloped right-of-way for political blight without destroying the look of our landscaped areas.
- Political signs that knock walkers, joggers, wheel chairs and baby carriages off the sidewalk. I know that some will criticize me for being icky-picky or they will call me the “Sign Police”. My critic’s view may change after we end up with our first dead child or adult citizen caused by a political sign forcing the victim into the roadway. Then the familiar cry of “We have to do something to make sure this never happens again.” will ring out loud and clear. I want to make sure tragedy does not happen the first time.
- Political sign placement that is likely to injure citizens as they walk by.
- Political signs that block line of sight for drivers thereby creating a vehicle traffic hazard.
DOCUMENTED POLITICAL SIGN COMMON SENSE VIOLATION:
Enough talk. Let me show you what I am referring to. There are at least three Karena Kirkendoll For Superior Court Judge signs posted along Nyanza Road SW. Two of us voters were walking south on the east side of Nyanza when we came upon a sign blocking our path. Our choice was to turn around, leave the pathway and walk in the tall grassI or leave the path and walk in the street. We chose to continue walking on the pathway when my foot contacted the sign knocking it to the ground. I did not kick the sign. I just kept moving forward one foot in front of the other. Ahead I found another hazardous Kirkendoll sign that appeared to have been knocked over by a previous walker. Multiple other candidates have their signs in the same right-of-way and they are still standing, but they do not violate any of my common sense concepts described in 1 – 4 above. Most importantly none of the other candidate signs pose a physical hazard to voters.
On the west side of Nyanza is another Karena Kirkendoll sign that absolutely forces citizens off the walking and jogging trail into the roadway.
I find it ironic that while Kirkendoll might well be an excellent candidate for Superior Court Judge, she shows poor judgement and no common sense.
In actuality the problem I describe may stem from an over zealous campaign worker, but this is a case where that old saying fits. “The buck stops with Ms. Kirkendoll.” Ms. Kirkendoll needs to educate her campaign workers to be more intelligent about sign placement.
If I base my voting decision on signs only, instead of other more intelligent criteria, I will vote NO for Kirkendoll because a Superior Court Judge must possess common sense and good judgement. A Superior Court Judge has to be concerned about decorum and the safety of our citizens.
While Karena Kirkendoll’s political sign program suggests that she lacks the necessary characteristics to serve as Superior Court Judge, I will also be checking more intelligent criteria before making my final voting decision.
Paul Nimmo says
I believe the day of the political sign is past. With social media etc, there is just not a need for these signs.
I recently joked about the Tacoma City Council, who is debating a ban on plastic bags in order to save the environment. I wonder how many of them use political signs and then toss them into the landfill?
However do disagree with the concept of “accidentally” knocking the sign over. If you have an issue, knock the candidate off the ballot.
Steve O’Ban’s stategy apparently involves placing his signs every 10′ and in lumps of 3 wherever possible. I give more attention to signs in people’s yards and ignore those in the right of way placed by money and staff. But clearly this shotgun strategy works or it wouldn’t happen. Just a smaller, yet still insidious example of money in politics ruining the country one drip at a time.
Linell Jones says
RIGHT ON! And frankly should I come upon a sign that is blocking MY right to walk (I don’t jog/run) safely I won’t ‘accidentally’ knock it over. I’ll snatch it out of the ground, break the ‘legal graffiti’ up and throw it in the trash. Feel free to arrest me. I’d love to hear the explanation of the the police/prosecutors who would take me to court for that but IGNORE all the laws surrounding fireworks, which are an even larger safety hazard.
Alan Hart says
The few times I have agreed to help a candidate by putting out signs, I received very clear and repeated instructions about where I was allowed to post them, maintain them and when they needed to be collected. The folks I am willing to support take responsibility. If they can’t manage signs and volunteers, how can they manage a public office?
Well said! I live near 67th Avenue In University Place and someone, probably youthful vandals, knocked over all the political signs along 67th Avenue . This happened sometime over the July 4th holiday weekend. And there they remain…scattered all over the side of the road clear into Fircrest.
I agree with you, Joe. Anyone who would vote for someone based on the name recognition from these signs is not an educated voter. And anyone who seeks votes in this manner is not a deserving or worthy candidate. Stop the Sign Pollution!
Walli Roarke says
I agree with everything you say and have been known to remove signs that block my view of approaching traffic. I have typed several messages and taped them to the signs I have pulled out including my name and phone number.
Beverly Isenson says
If I choose to put signs at the edge of my property, no one has the right to remove and destroy them. And if you are walking along the edge of my property, get off! I’m sick and tired of people pulling down or knocking over or, on one occasion, burning two of the signs which I put up on my own land.
With all the problems in this county, this nation and our world, how does anyone find time to complain about such innocuous things?.
joseph Boyle says
We are in agreement. I am not talking about signs on private property and I can’t “get off” because I did not “get on” to begin with. I am talking about public right-of-way, not your private property.
As to how I find time to complaint about this I can offer you two responses. 1. I am retired. 2. I can’t do much if anything about world problems, but I can do something to help solve this problem and save people from injury and death and to that end, I believe my time is well spent.
If anyone takes, damages or destroys signs on your private property, then that represents a series of crimes and should not be tolerated. I am with you on that count.
Nancy Covert says
Well said, Joe. What cracks me up about Rep. Dick Muri’s campaign signs is that he’s piggybacking off signs for Mike Winkler. Interesting.
Steve S. says
Where should campaign signs be properly located? It’s such a divisive issue. I believe the answer can be found within: “Can’t we all just get a lawn?”
Linell Jones says
Steve S. I think you just won the internet on this one! Thanks for the laugh.
Jimmie R. Farmer says
The Linda Farmer sign at 112th and Gravelly Lake Dr has been relocated. As Linda’s husband, I’m the one putting up a lot of these signs and I try to use the common sense guidelines that you outlined in your blog post. I did not put up that particular sign, but in defense of the person that did it was on the outer edge and not totally in the middle of that well maintain the area that you spoke of. I personally would not have put it there and I will talk to the person that did to go over the guidelines and ensure that sign placement does not obstruct or get in the way of people or traffic.
joseph Boyle says
Thank you Mr. Farmer. I appreciate your businesslike follow through and courteous communication. This very morning, I noticed the sign had been moved.
You are correct. The sign was on the edge, but where do I draw the line? Either it is in the landscaped area or not. Since it was, I included the sign as an example in my article.
Based on my experience, I know that a single sign has the power to “prime the pump” and thereby via the pack mentality promote behavior that would have other sign posters erecting their signs all over the berm area, including the lawn. I appreciate your having removed the negative promotional temptation.
The sign is no longer in the City of Lakewood beautification area. The sign is now in a landscaped area in the city right-of-way associated with the condominiums contiguous to the new sign location. I am not going to protest the sign’s new location because it is not an area that was beautified by the city, nor maintained by the city. This area was beautified by the contiguous property condominium owners.
You may well have permission from one of the condominium owners to place the sign in their landscaped planter bed.
Having said that, I do wish to encourage you to consider only using undeveloped areas of the city right-of-way thereby avoiding landscaped areas. While I am vocal about my objection, there are many others who quietly and anonomously react negatively to seeing distracting signs in areas beautified by anyone.
If you consider my suggestion favorably, you take no chance of losing votes because of sign irritation. If you decide that moving your sign one time is all that you are going to do, then that is your choice and right. I will not plan to publish any articles regarding signs in privately maintained areas. That is between you and the condo owners.
Thank you for your thoughtful discussion.
Jimmie R. Farmer says
Mr Boyle, I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree on the definition of landscaped in this instance. The sign has been placed immediately adjacent to a utility pole; it is in no way in anyone’s planter bed. If there were indeed flowers or plants there I would not have placed the sign there in the first place.
Additionally, per the “common sense violations” from your article:
1. The sign has been removed from the beautification area at 112th and Gravelly Lake Drive.
2. The current sign placement does not in any way “knock walkers, joggers, wheel chairs and baby carriages off the sidewalk.”
3. “Political sign placement that is likely to injure citizens as they walk by.” The current sign placement does not present such a hazard.
4. “Political signs that block line of sight for drivers thereby creating a vehicle traffic hazard.” The current sign placement presents no such hazard.
I challenge you to take into consideration the overall placement of all Linda Farmer for Pierce County Council signs in relation to other candidate’s signs as you travel around Lakewood and within District 6 (we limit our signs to within District 6 only). I believe that while you and I may not agree on every detail, you will find that we take great care to ensure our signs are not an impediment or present a hazard to people. As you noted in your article, that is definitely not the case for all candidates.