Campaign signs called a problem
June 19, 2012
City and state transportation officials say most candidates have been good about heeding restrictions on where they can put up campaign signs.
The exception, they say, was Carson City supervisor candidate Jim Shirk. According to city crews, they had to remove as many as two or three Shirk signs a day from public rights-of-way during the run-up to the primary election.
Shirk, however, said that it won’t be a problem going forward.
“We went around the day after the election and took everything down we could find,” said Shirk, who will face incumbent Supervisor Molly Walt in the November general election.
Shirk’s camp missed at least one sign. It was stuck in the barrier on U.S. 395 at the top of the southbound Eastlake Boulevard offramp Thursday evening. By Friday morning, however, maintenance supervisor Mike Lampshire of the Nevada Department of Transportation had removed it.
Shirk said he didn’t put the sign up on 395.
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Shirk said his signs are down and won’t be going up again until later in the campaign, in part because it relieves his volunteers of the responsibility for keeping track of where the signs are.
As one of the winners in the primaries, Shirk isn’t required to take down his campaign signs. Unsuccessful primary candidates, however, must remove their signs within 30 days of last Tuesday’s primary. That means a deadline of July 12.
State law is clear that no signs of any type, including campaign signs, may be put in the public right-of way.
Shirk said that he had told volunteers not to put signs up on public property and that they asked permission before posting any on private property. But he said he isn’t he only candidate who has had signs show up on public property.
He said he also asked volunteers and supporters to report any signs they may have missed in last Wednesday’s cleanup.
According to Lampshire and NDOT spokesman Scott Magruder, not only is it against the law to put any signs in the public right of way – it’s also dangerous in some cases, such as the sign on the Eastlake offramp.
“It’s dangerous to stop and put it there. It puts our guys in danger along the freeway,” Magruder said.
Lampshire said the most serious violation he had to deal with was Nevada Day before the last presidential election, when more than 75 campaign signs were put up in Washoe Valley.
“We spent like four hours taking signs down,” he said.
But he said it isn’t just politicians. He said that real estate agents do it, too, and that one of the most common they find is yard sale signs. He understands that most of those folks aren’t aware of the law.
Magruder said NDOT crews have to get to the signs as soon as they see one because, once there’s a sign on some public right of way, “they proliferate.” He said that when one candidate sees a sign somewhere, he thinks he can put one there, too, and soon there may be a dozen to remove.