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Missing Campaign Signs Frustrate Candidates

Jay Johnson, campaign manager for 6th Congressional District candidate Jesse Young, is fed up after multiple signs go missing in Gig Harbor.

With the election season in full swing, political campaign signs have also hit the street and homes in full force around communities, including Gig Harbor.

However, one Gig Harbor resident Jay Johnson is not happy with signs mysteriously disappearing.

“You put them up one day and the next day, they’re gone,” he said. “It’s pretty bizarre.”

Unlike in the past, he said the signs are disappearing regardless of the party.

“It’s not just us. It’s everybody,” he said.

Johnson, who also serves as the campaign manager for 6th Congressional District GOP candidate Jesse Young, said he and his campaign volunteers have caught several people taking down signs without their permission.

He even found an area off the intersection of 24th Street NW and 14th Avenue NW that has become dumping grounds for political signs—both past and current.

Johnson said he learned about the area when he stopped to thank a Pierce County worker for mowing the grass around the political signs.

Removing campaign signs without permission is illegal, the confirms.

So far, Young’s campaign has put up about 8,000 signs throughout six counties from Aberdeen to Port Angeles, and a third of them have gone missing, Johnson said.

“I understand that the signs are ugly. I don’t like them,” he said. “But we got a process in this country in electing people, and one of the ways they get known is by putting up their signs. It’s an inexpensive way of contacting a large number of people.”

But when signs suddenly go missing, it can get pretty pricey.

According to Johnson, the cost of printing and assembling a single sign can run anywhere from $4 to $10.

“Not everybody can get a volunteer force together to do all the labor for free. So you have to pay somebody to put them out and even maintain them,” he said.

For candidates with smaller campaigns like Jerry Costello, who’s running for Pierce County Superior Court, Johnson said funding is typically produced out-of-pocket or from donations.

“They don’t typically raise a whole lot of money so if they got to spend $7,000 to $8,000 on signs, that’s a lot of money for small campaigns,” he said.

On the other hand, Young's Democratic counterpart, Derek Kilmer's communications director Matthew Randazzo said they have not seen a signficant increase in missing signs.

“We’ve had a couple incidents, but nothing unusual,” he said. “It happens every campaign.”

For those who are counting down the days until the signs go away, parties are required to remove them within seven days after the Nov. 6 elections. 

Tom H July 09, 2012 at 06:50 PM
Your complaints will fall on deaf ears. Our politicians think we are dumb animals. Also, they could care less about fouling up our local environment, as demonstrated by the visual pollution these signs cause.
George Weis July 09, 2012 at 07:56 PM
I can tolerate the political signs BUT if they are considered appropriate, then the County can stop stealing signs posted by nonprofit organizations notifying the public of scheduled community events. This has happened repeatedly to organizations I volunteer for. Highly inappropriate, malignant behavior!
Joseph kimball July 09, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I believe the signs are a huge eyesore to the community and are being placed in areas without consent. The idea of ten signs for one possible elect is out of control and a waste of funds. Spend that money to promote yourself at community events where people will actually HEAR what you have to offer us. Ask permission to post your signs before just pounding them in the ground, Don't be a lazy candidate, get off your butt and maybe go out and hold your sign and when you are done, take it home with you. I for one am not going to vote for you based on how colorfull and bold your sign is. Also just to clarify, as they have been posted on my front yard without permission and on our private community street, I have taken the liberty to remove them and place them kindly in the TRASH! They want us to have respect for them and vote for them, well have respect for us and our community as well!
Marian Berejikian July 09, 2012 at 11:18 PM
Signs in our Right of Ways are not just unsightly, but in some areas obstruct the traffic line of sight. When I see the names on those signs, I make a note NOT to vote for them since they did not seem to consider public safety important and do not exercise common sense in the sign's placement.Pierce County has dealt with this issue before (Excerpt from article - County leaders reach agreement on sign removal - Jul 13 2009). The Pierce County Council and Executive Pat McCarthy have agreed on a plan for removing illegal signs placed in the county right of way. These signs are unsafe, unsightly and unlawful, and residents have said they want them removed. Political campaign signs will continue to be protected as a form of free speech, and real estate open house signs may remain as long as they are within the provisions of the recently revised law. Illegal signs that are removed will be recycled. A two-person crew will implement the sign removal program. Included in their efforts will be photo documentation of each sign to prove that it was placed in the county right of way and a record of its removal. This level of control, tracking and documentation is necessary to enable enforcement of the law for repeat violators...
Maggie Anderson July 13, 2012 at 08:02 AM
"So far, Young’s campaign has put up about 8,000 signs throughout six counties from Aberdeen to Port Angeles, and a third of them have gone missing, Johnson said." I think most of those signs are in and around Gig Harbor! I was under the impression that the signs were supposed to be on private property - in that case, I agree that the signs should not be taken down without permission. However - on city or county property, isn't it a bit of a no-no? I understand that Mr. Young is not the only candidate guilty of this (if I am even correct in my understanding) but why on earth do there have to be SO many of them for this one particular candidate? At one point, across from the old Gig Harbor movie theatre (by Les Schwab) there were Jesse Young signs every 5 ft for the length of the divider. A few weeks ago, there were literally 29 signs (I counted, as I felt like I couldn't go 10 ft without seeing one!) on one side of the road between GHHS and the Chevron on Stinson - which is only about a 1 mile drive. Hands down, this candidate has more signs in and around Gig Harbor than any of the other candidates currently running for any office. It is an eyesore. I know of several people who have made a joke out of it on Facebook - "Going on vacation. Best part? Don't have to look at Jesse Young's signs for a week". It is overkill - I think I would rather risk being "unknown" above turning potential voters away because I irritated them with overexposing my campaign...

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