By Mike Moore
12:59 PM EDT, August 15, 2012
We’ve got a few more months before the leaves begin to change, signaling the coming of the fall season. But there is another telltale sign that fall 2012 is just a few months away — campaign signs.
I first noticed it last week as I was driving down Main Street — it was the first of what I’m sure will be countless campaigns signs cluttering every available open space in the city.
Following the 2010 general election, the Nicholasville City Commission briefly discussed campaign-sign regulations, but nothing ever came of it.
Back in the ’90s, the city passed an ordinance that candidates couldn’t put signs up until 30 days before the election and they had to be down 10 days after the election, and they couldn’t be larger than 4 feet by 4 feet in a residential area, commissioner Johnny Collier said during the Nov. 8, 2010 meeting.
The ordinance was later repealed because a candidate challenged it, and Collier said that the commission wasn’t interested in a lawsuit over campaign signs.
Currently, there are not any ordinances in the city governing campaign signs. City Clerk Roberta Warren said the city’s planning and zoning has an ordinance regarding the size of signs, but planning director Greg Bohnett said his office has no jurisdiction over campaign signs that are placed on private property.
There are a couple schools of thought on the matter, with the first being an eyesore issue.
My brother said to me when on a visit to Nicholasville during the 2010 election season, “If you combined Madison and Fayette counties campaign signs, I don’t think it would come close to what Nicholasville has.”
I was pondering this problem while looking at some weeds in my garden and along my fence line in my backyard. After pulling them up and hitting the hard-to-reach weeds that grow up a power pole in my backyard with Weed-B-Gon, I couldn’t help but wonder if Ortho makes a spray for campaign signs.
But the larger issue is the First Amendment. Simply put, campaign signs are a form of freedom of speech, and that’s a right guaranteed by the First Amendment.
So the question is this: How can candidates get their messages across while avoiding the campaign-sign clutter that has plagued Nicholasville each campaign season?
I get that the candidates want — and need — to get their names out there. And my wife and I, as we drive around and through town, often poke fun at the many signs. The sheer number of signs are ridiculous, but it is the candidates’ right to put their signs up.
I too, have had to ease out in intersections trying to peer over signs that block the view of oncoming traffic.
That’s not an easy question to answer, and frankly I haven’t got a clue on how to solve that problem.
But I suppose candidates picking up after themselves, and not littering the community with too many campaign signs to the point Jessamine County becomes the butt of every campaign-sign-related joke in the region is asking a bit much, huh?