Thursday, August 17, 2000
The conclusion of the national political conventions and the arrival of the first significant rainfall of the season have converged in time for campaign signs to begin sprouting in lawns and hayfields around Steamboat Springs.
The phrases "Bush/Cheney 2000" and "Gore/Lieberman 2000" are apt to be familiar sights around the city as the fall campaign season begins in earnest next week.
City of Steamboat Springs construction site inspector Sandy Fiebing, who formerly enforced the sign code for the city, said Thursday that local regulations cover political campaign signs, but aren't very specific about what candidates can and cannot do with their placards on a stick.
The city regulations are specific in saying that signs must come down within seven days of the election, in this case, by Nov. 14, Fiebing said. But they don't say anything about how early the signs can go up, or even how large they can be, Fiebing added.
County Attorney John Merrill said Routt County's approach to campaign signs takes the Constitution of the United States into consideration.
"The county has sign regulations, but because of free speech issues, we don't apply them to political signs," Merrill said.
County Clerk Kay Weinland recalled that campaign signs were a minor sore point in the 1998 sheriff's race in Routt County. Supporters of Jim DeLissio, who challenged Sheriff John Warner in the campaign, noticed that some of their candidate's signs were disappearing from front yards. The Warner camp denied any involvement in the case of the disappearing signs, and there was never any information regarding the reason for their disappearance, Weinland said.
Weinland's office hands out large information packets to all candidates for public office that include a copy of the Fair Campaign Act. She said the act advises candidates that they must report the amount of money they spend on their signs, along with other campaign expenses, to election officials.
Jeanne Whiddon, who campaigned successfully for the office of county treasurer in 1998, said she had enough signs spread around the county that fall that she and her supporters needed three days to get them all down.
Whiddon said sign etiquette is passed down from candidate to candidate: Never place them in the public right of way or on utility poles, instead get permission to place them on private land or fences. Signs placed on fences should lie flat against the fence and not stick out from the fencing, Whiddon added.
The last day to register to vote in the Nov. 7 general election is Oct. 9 at the Routt County courthouse
To reach Tom Ross call 871-4210 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org