Several local candidates for public office were quoted in last week’s paper. There is a fundamental error in their interview, since no signs were removed from private property by officials. The article also shows some candidates have fundamental misunderstandings about the responsibilities of elected officials.
All public road right-of-ways are for public use and for public purposes. State statutes prohibit placing of any commercial or political signs in any public right of ways. Local authorities have a duty to remove and dispose of political and commercial signs from the road right of ways. The town of Dayton sign ordinance also prohibits signs in public road right of ways. Every town of Dayton candidate was warned of state and local laws several times before they began placing signs in the road right of way.
Town of Dayton chairman have enforced the prohibition of political signs in previous elections when complaints from town residents were received. I received complaints during recent gubernatorial elections and presidential elections. In each case I investigated whether or not the signs were in the public right of way. In each case, the candidate’s representative had an immediate response of moving all of their signs outside of the public road right of way.
Some candidates may have thought their signs were on private property, and twice candidates received warnings that their signs on Highway 22 were inside of the road right away and then had signs returned to them. One candidate chose to place their signs illegally in the road right of way a third time in the area where the town had received citizen complaints. Only after the third violation was this candidate’s sign removed and disposed of according to the law. Placing signs in the right of way both authorizes disposal of signs and could also subject the candidate to fines.
I have never had a candidate or candidate’s representative feel that they were exempt from statutes or ordinances. The residents of Dayton deserve representatives that understand that laws apply to them also.