City of Phoenix staff say they haven’t had the resources necessary to enforce the state’s ordinance regarding campaign signs but as candidates are putting them up earlier and earlier it’s something they will revisit.
Arizona Revised Statute 16-1019 says the city will not take down campaign signs if they are put up within 60 days before an election and taken down within 15 days after. While that has always been the law, it hasn’t always been enforced.
“The city, during the last election because of a lack of resources, a decision was made not to go after people placing them up early,” said Alan Stephenson, acting assistant director of the city’s planning and development department. “We didn’t have many people that put signs up that far in advance of the state allowance that allows them to be in the public right-of-way.”
During this year’s election for Phoenix City Council there have been more signs up early, said Stephenson. Councilman Sal DiCiccio has had signs up in Ahwatukee Foothills for weeks and there have also been campaign signs spotted in Districts 4 and 8. If the state law were followed closely the signs wouldn’t be allowed until June 28 for the August 27 election.
The decision to put signs up early is annoying to some Ahwatukee Foothills residents.
“It bothers me because it’s rank campaigning,” said K.R. Scott, a recently retired Government teacher from Mountain Pointe High School. “When I see politicians use a system it really angers me. I’ve been teaching kids for the last 20 years about the right way to be civically responsible and how politicians are accountable to people. This to me is sort of high handed.”
Councilman Sal DiCiccio said while his campaign signs are up early they’re still following the rules. They are marked with his campaign information and when they’ve recieved complaints they took them down.
“I think I’m pretty good about following the rules,” DiCiccio said. “If anyone has complained about them being too close to their property or whatever, we’ve taken them down. We haven’t taken too many down because we put them up right the first time. We took two down from Pecos because the state said they were on their property. We immediately took them down.”
When asked about her signs during a Dems and Donuts meeting in May, Karlene Keogh Parks — DiCiccio’s opponent in the race — said her campaign is distributing yard signs, which are allowed at this time. They may break the rules slightly to catch voters who leave for the summer but she said she believes the signs will capture more attention if they all go out at once over night. Her campaign is still working on designs.
Judy Wade, an Ahwatukee Foothills resident and Dems and Donuts member, said she doesn’t believe putting signs up early helps a candidate.
“I feel it’s boosting Karlene’s chances because people are already sick to death of seeing that name plastered all over,” she said. “Everyone needs to play by the same set of rules when you’re a candidate. People realize when you’re not playing by the rules.”
Stephenson said his department will be meeting with city management in the next few weeks to discuss enforcement of campaign signs. They must treat all campaigns fairly so enforcement, if it is done, must be done all at once.
To file a complaint with the city about campaign signs email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (602) 495-0301.