May 23, 2018
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Placement of campaign signs can say a lot about a candidate’s integrity

Renee Ordway
By Renee Ordway, Special to the BDN

I discovered this week that campaign signs are popping up.

I noticed it when I stepped outside of our house to cut a few hydrangeas from the bush in front of our house and found one posted in the yard.

It wasn’t in our yard, exactly. It was on the esplanade in front of our house, which, even though we mow and trim it, is technically not our property.

It’s not that I object to campaign signs. I guess they are a necessary evil at this time of year, but it troubled me that someone placed it in front of our house without asking.

I started writing for this newspaper a few years ago at the age of 22.

Since then 27 fall election seasons have come and gone.

I have voted in each one and made my decisions on who to support with the same care and diligence that I assume you all do and I can tell you campaign signs had nothing to do with it.

We have had friends and neighbors run for political office and some of them have knocked on our door and asked to place campaign signs on our lawn.

Each time I politely said no and explained my reason and each time the candidate was gracious and understanding.

A couple of years ago my husband, who knows my rule, came home from work and asked if we could make an exception, as a great friend who we really wanted to see in office was running.

I said no.

It just doesn’t seem fitting to me given the business I’m in.

I also don’t sign petitions.

For most of my adult life I was a news reporter and to credibly cover campaigns and political issues I felt it was important that I not advertise my preferences in such matters.

Of course even the most unbiased reporters have opinions, but the true test of professionalism is to not let those seep into your news coverage.

It speaks to your integrity.

Today, as a columnist allowed to publish my opinions, I suppose one could argue that it is not as important whether I advertise my political preferences in my front yard or put my name on a petition.

But it still matters to me.

While I may criticize or laud the behaviors or decisions of sitting politicians, I do so because they are in fact sitting in public office and are subject to scrutiny.

It’s my job.

I would not, however, suggest how you should vote.

Because I have questioned the conduct or decisions of certain politicians also does not mean I would not vote for them.

I have helped elect plenty of people and gone on to question some of their decisions or remarks in this column.

I don’t discriminate.

Politicians on any level make lots of decisions. Some we agree with, some we may not. It is our job as voters to sort through it and decide which candidate we feel best represents us.

It is unlikely your choice is going to say and do everything perfectly.

Sometimes they need a rap on the knuckles and I’m blessed to have this little space to occasionally do the rapping.

As such, there is a particular city council candidate who might want to put his hands in his pockets.

Of course it is possible this candidate, who I have taken issue with a time or two, was not aware that it was my house in front of which he placed his sign, but I’m somewhat skeptical of that since one of his biggest supporters lives just around the corner.

My house also was the only one to be blessed with his sign, even though there are many others a block or two down the street that have higher traffic volumes.

When my husband returned home from work and saw the sign he wanted to remove it, primarily because no one had the courtesy to ask if we minded that it was placed there.

I had already called City Hall and asked about the rules and was told that the esplanade is not ours and we have no say as to what gets placed there.

We would be fined up to $250 should we remove it.

I thought about calling the candidate and asking him to remove the sign. I decided he has the right to deliver his message to the voting public, and perhaps to me, as he sees fit.

So it shall stay.

But this candidate, whose name I’m not going to promote, might want to take a look at the regulations and guidelines offered up by the city in regards to placement of political signs.

“When placing signs in the esplanade area in residential neighborhoods, candidates or political parties are urged to get permission from the adjacent property owner prior to placing the sign. Although it is not required, it is good public relations to do so.”

Perhaps if this candidate had done so he might have understood and even appreciated my reasoning — you know, about integrity.

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