Monday, August 9, 2004

Proposed rule change for political signs revised

By Cindy Schroeder
Enquirer staff writer

INDEPENDENCE - Officials have revised a proposed political sign law after some challengers said it was unfair.

The proposal would have prohibited candidates from putting up political signs more than 45 days before a primary or general election and required the signs be removed five days after Election Day. Independence now requires candidates to remove their signs the day after an election, but it doesn't limit how soon they can go up.

Some challengers argued that the revised regulations amounted to changing the rules in the middle of an election season. Critics said the new rules would be unfair to first-time candidates who needed the name recognition that political signs can provide.

Independence City Council changed the draft ordinance last week to prohibit political signs sooner than 60 days before an election, or risk their removal by city staff. As with the original proposal, the signs must be removed within five days of an election. A final vote is set for Sept. 13.

With the change to 60 days, the political sign law wouldn't affect the current election cycle, several council members said. Council approved the initial reading of the ordinance by a vote of 5 to 1, with Donna Yeager casting the only negative vote.

"I'm pleased that it won't affect this election,'' said political newcomer Mike Little. Little, however, was concerned about language in the proposed law referring to a political "medium.''

"If the true intent was to just affect yard signs only, why not specifically change it to read yard signs only?'' Little asked. He said he didn't want the new law to stop candidates from passing out literature door-to-door or using political signs in parades.

"This ordinance has nothing to do with parades and nothing to do with fliers or pamphlets,'' Independence Mayor Chris Moriconi said. "It's simply political yard signs.''

Five Kenton County cities - Bromley, Covington, Erlanger, Ludlow and Taylor Mill - have no time limits on when political signs can go up or have to be removed. In Crestview Hills, Edgewood, Fort Mitchell, Fort Wright, and Lakeside Park, political signs can go up 60 days before an election and must be removed 10 days after. In Villa Hills, signs can go up 60 days before an election and must come down seven days after, while Crescent Springs requires political signs to be removed within a week of an election. Park Hills prohibits political signs sooner than 45 days before an election and requires their removal three days afterward.



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