Thursday, February 08, 2001

Fairfield might double political-sign season

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FAIRFIELD — City Council will vote Monday on a proposal to more than double the amount of time candidates may post political signs before an election.

        The proposed ordinance would allow political signs to be posted 65 days before elections, up from 30 days.

        Planning Director Tim Bachman said in October that several candidates put up their political signs early.

        When city officials challenged them, candidates cited a September ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court that declared unconstitutional an ordinance in Painesville that prohibited posting political yard signs more than 17 days before an election. Though the court called the ordinance “unnecessarily over-restrictive,” it did not address specific limits.

        The court said the Painesville ordinance sets time limits that do not correspond to the traditional general election season, often deemed as starting on Labor Day.

        As a result, Mr. Bachman urged Fairfield officials to modify the sign ordinance. The proposed ordinance is to receive a first reading Monday.

        Candidates would still have to remove political signs 10 days after Election Day.

        Though the proposal covers what most people would consider a campaign season, Councilman Sterling Uhler said, he does not favor the proposed ordinance.

        “I don't think political signs are a way to choose the people who are going to run our community. There's no information transmitted by a political sign,” Mr. Uhler said.

        “I've had the advantage over the years of having enough identity that I can get by with very few signs, so it's easy for me to be somewhat elitist about it. (But) boy, they just clutter up a community.”

        Despite his opposition to the proposed ordinance, Mr. Uhler said he'll likely vote to pass it because he doesn't want to create any legal problems for the city.

        “We probably need to (pass the ordinance) just to satisfy the court decision,” he said.


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