The Primary election has come and gone, and the City of Claremore Code Enforcement Office wishes it could say the same about all the political signs that came with it. The Code Enforcement Department has been down to one officer since the second officer transitioned to the City Clerk position in March. The position Sarah Sharp left vacant was only recently filled and our new officer will begin patrolling the streets next week.
On top of the fact that this is the busy season with new tall grass and weed and swimming pool violations every day, our experienced officer will be spending a large portion of her time providing on-the-job training for our new officer. And one thing taking up the officers’ valuable time needlessly is illegally-placed or out-dated election signs.
We want Claremore to be a neat and clean place to live, work, play and visit. Poor aesthetics can quickly take a community from classy to trashy, such as the washer in the front lawn, the broken sofa on the porch or the thirteen election signs in your neighbor’s yard. While the washer and the sofa are clear violations of City ordinances and could result in fines if not removed, the City of Claremore would never attempt to infringe on the ability of citizens to maintain their right to free speech. Therefore, we have no rules against political or religious signs IF the signs are on private property with the property owner’s permission.
We would like to make a plea to the fine citizens of Claremore to help make this part of the Code Enforcement officers’ jobs a little easier and your community a little cleaner by following a few basic rules and suggestions.
We’ll go over the legal issues first.
Even political and religious signs are deemed illegal if placed in City right-of-way, on public property, or attached to street signs or utility poles. If you have placed a sign in one of these places, please remove it, or a code officer will probably remove it for you. (These rules also apply to garage sale signs.) If you are unsure of what is considered to be right-of-way vs. the legal area of your front yard, a general rule of thumb is anything between your house and the sidewalk or electric lines is safe, anything from the sidewalk or electric lines to the street is right-of-way.
There are no rules against putting political signs in your front yard, but that doesn’t mean you can place them in anyone’s yard. Please make sure that you have the property owner’s permission to put the sign in the yard before you do so. They absolutely cannot go on any publicly owned property, such as the lawns of City, County or State-owned buildings or City parks and recreation areas.
Now for a couple of suggestions.
One is enough. One sign for a candidate gets the same message across as ten signs for that same candidate and makes your yard look a lot nicer, which in turn builds credibility for your candidate with the potential voter looking at the sign. People are attracted to things that are pleasing to the eye, not things that are distracting. Besides creating a cluttered look, too many signs can be a potential driving distraction.
Out with the old. If your candidate didn’t win the primary, we feel your pain, but still don’t understand why you don’t remove their sign. Please discard all signs for candidates who will not be on the general election ballot. It is in poor taste to keep up an old sign and just creates confusion for potential voters.
Be educated about your candidate. Make sure that the sign in your front yard is a representation of your actual political views and not just there because a friend of a cousin’s boss asked you to put it there.
If you are going to show your support for a candidate, you should be able to answer questions to passers-by as to what that candidate stands for in the political arena and why you think they would be the best person for the job.
The City of Claremore encourages its citizens to be active and perform their civic duties every chance they get. We just ask that you help us keep Claremore legal and looking good in the process. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to check out this Tuesday’s election results and get ready to vote in the general election this fall.
Cassie Woods is marking and information director for the City of Claremore.