Election sign rules changed
Okotoks: Candidates allowed to put signs on public property at three sites
By: Don Patterson
| Posted: Wednesday, Sep 25, 2013 06:00 am
Candidates in this fall’s municipal election will have more room to put up campaign signs around Okotoks.
Town council approved new rules for campaign signs allowing candidates to put signs up on public property, but it is limited to three locations.
The decision overturned previous rules banning campaign signs from public property and only allowing them on private property with the permission of home or business owners.
Coun. Laurie Hodson said the Town should do everything it can to publicize the election.
“I worry about apathy, generally, and denying the public knowledge that there’s in fact an election going on is counter productive,” he said.
Candidates will be able to put on signs on the east side on 32 Street along the hill near Stockton Avenue. Signs will also be allowed along Northridge Drive beside the northbound lanes north of Milligan Drive. The third location is on Southridge Drive beside the southbound lanes south of Cimarron Drive.
Council turned down three additional locations proposed by town administration.
Candidates can put up to five signs in each location. Signs can go up starting on the Sept. 23 nomination day and must be removed within three days after the Oct. 21 election.
Hodson said he believes it’s important to give candidates a public forum to promote themselves in a campaign. It will also help first-time candidates who may not be as well known in the community as incumbents to get their name out, he added.
While candidates can put signs on private residential lots, Hodson said that doesn’t mean people will get to see them.
“Not all residents have occasion to drive through all residential areas to make those kind of observations, but they can make an observation going through public property, which they’re going to pass through more frequently,” he said.
Coun. Matt Rockley cast the lone vote against the changes.
He said the rules were fine the way they were.
“A candidate in an election in Okotoks has thousands of signage opportunities in Okotoks, provided you can gain approval from the property owner to put a sign there,” said Rockley.
He said it says something about a candidate if someone agrees to put a sign up on their own property.
“Essentially, the candidate has taken the initiative to make that contact and speak with the property owner,” he said.
Rockley said it also sends the wrong message to ease the rules for candidate signs when the Town has strict rules for businesses putting up signs on public land.
One candidate for council in this fall’s election said she can see both sides of the issue, but ultimately supports the rules as they were.
On one hand, Carrie Fischer said allowing signs on public land can help to raise a candidate’s profile. However, she said candidates need to work hard to get elected and that means getting out and meeting people face-to-face, not just putting up signs.
“In the last election I didn’t mind the stringent bylaws,” said Fischer, who ran for town council in 2010. “You go to people and you ask them for their support and when they let you put signs on their lawn, it’s an indication to people driving by that their neighbours have spoken to this candidate and approved them.”