Uproar dies down over Pearce recall campaign signs - Ahwatukee Foothills News: Valley And State

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Uproar dies down over Pearce recall campaign signs

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Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2011 11:29 am

All of the furor over campaign signs seems to be dying down in the recall election of State Senate President Russell Pearce.

Christine Zielonka, development services director for the city of Mesa, said her office got numerous complaints after Sept. 9, the first date campaign signs could be legally posted, but the calls have been less frequent this week.

Most folks have calmed down, Zielonka said. "We sent out notifications to all of the respective campaigns and we are treating all of them exactly the same."

The Nov. 8 recall election has three candidates: Pearce, Jerry Lewis and Olivia Cortes. Signs in support of the three can be seen throughout west Mesa and even neighboring cities of Tempe and Gilbert.

The uproar started in late August as signs in support of Pearce began popping up all over Mesa legislative District 18. The city ordered those signs removed since they violated state law with many being posted too early and within 15 feet of the public right-of-way.

Also, the signs in question did not include contact information, which is also required so the city can contact organizers if there's a problem with the signs, such as illegal placement.

The Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall, the group that put up the signs, was told by the city to remove them. Initially, the group refused, but later took some 300 signs down until it was legal to put them back.

Campaign signs could not be legally posted until 60 days from election day, which was Sept. 9. Also, Zielonka said that the top priority of her office is traffic safety and her staff has driven around the west Mesa district to look for signs that could pose safety issues.

"For the most part, it seems that the majority of signs appear to be back the 15 feet that we require from the right-of-way," Zielonka said. "Obviously with our limited resources, we can't go out and measure each of these signs, but from a windshield view, just driving out and seeing the signs, it seems that most comply with the city statutes.

Another issue that now appears to be resolved is that contact information can be found on all of the signs posted by Pearce supporters. But finding it isn't easy in some cases. Small, 1-inch high by 3-inch across, stickers were posted on the large signs targeting Pearce recall organizer Randy Parraz. Those stickers contain contact information for the Citizens Who Oppose the Pearce Recall.

"State statute says there are no requirements as far as the size of this information," Zielonka said. "And from a resources perspective, it's not a real high priority."

• Contact writer: (480) 898-6815 or sburks@evtrib.com

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