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As Long as We Remember...

August 26, 2010

Here’s Your Sign….

Amanda Haddaway

The primary election is only a few weeks away and political signs continue to sprout like weeds in an overgrown lawn. Most candidates play by the rules and only place signs on properties where they have the express consent of the owner.


However, there are always one or two political wannabes who disregard personal property and the documented rules and place their signs wherever the mood strikes them.


One of the biggest offenders locally is Republican candidate for delegate in District 3A, Chris Huckenpoehler. I’ve spotted more illegally placed signs from Mr. Huckenpoehler’s campaign than I’ve spotted legally placed ones. I’m not sure if he doesn’t have any real supporters, or if he’s just so clueless that he doesn’t think that the sign placement rules apply to him.


Ignorance isn't an excuse. The rules aren’t complicated even for a political neophyte, so I question Mr. Huckenpoehler’s ability to follow the rules in Annapolis should he be elected.


Per the Maryland State Highway Administration’s website, political signs do not require a permit, but they may not be placed in the median, along the shoulder, or anywhere else within state’s right-of-way, just as other advertising signs are prohibited in these same areas.


The county adds to this regulation by stating that “each sign shall be located within the owner’s property boundaries and shall not be located within the public right-of-way.”


Frederick City also has its own rules regulating political sign placement. Signs may not be located in the city’s right-of-way or on city property. Right-of-way is generally defined as city streets, alleys, sidewalks, pedestrian or bicycle paths, or land maintained by the city.


A little common sense should also come into play with sign placement, but I’m questioning whether all candidates possess this skill.


Common sense may not be as common as one would hope. Signs should only be placed on private property with the express consent of the property owner (or tenant in a rental situation). Signs placed without consent can and should be removed by the owner. Signs placed on vacant lots and uninhabited homes are also not legitimate unless the owner gives permission.


There is, however, one caveat to these rules. Candidates place signs at carnivals and other public events that are free for the taking. These signs are not always placed in locations that are known to the candidate. If you see a sign that is placed in error, contact the candidate first and ask him/her to remove it, but be nice because the candidate may not know of the problem.


Based on the sheer volume of misplaced Huckenpoehler signs, I don’t think this applies to this candidate. Signs on telephone poles are also not welcome.


And while we’re on the topic of political signs: the signs in my front yard were taken last weekend. I’ve heard from quite a few other people in the county who have also been the victims of sign theft and sign destruction. Are these acts of vandalism the work of bored teenagers, or is some underhanded political maneuvering at hand? I guess we’ll never know. Although, my husband jokingly suggested that we rig the signs with some sort of Taser device so that they’re not stolen again. I told him that might be a little bit of overkill. Nonetheless, it is irritating to come home and see that your signs are missing.


I’ve also heard of several instances of signs being replaced with another candidate’s signs. I’m not sure what to make of it, but it does cause concern. Would a candidate really stoop so low as to replace the signs of an opponent with his own? I certainly hope not.


Finally, one last word on political signs: signs don’t vote, people do. I hope to see you at the polls September 14 for the primary election.



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