Democratic and Republican leaders in West Hartford are talking about a pact to get all of their candidates to “refrain from using oversize, billboard-style campaign signs,” according to a story in today’s Courant.
“I hope you will agree that this is one more way that we can put partisanship aside and do something that the people of our town will appreciate,” Democratic Chairwoman Maureen Magnan said in a letter asking Republican Chairman Carl Donatelli to agree to the ban, the story said.
Donatelli called it “a worthy objective,” the paper reported, but added, “I don’t know that I can make a promise on behalf of all the candidates that no signs will go up, regardless of the size. We can make the suggestion, but we really can’t enforce it.”
Two years ago, a few candidates erected some 4-by-8-foot signs, which are hardly billboards or something. They were criticized for it by “residents,” the paper said.
Last time I checked, this is still a democracy, and elections are a whole lot more important than all the signs we see every day for the Mohegan Sun, the lottery, restaurants and that big porn store on the Berlin Turnpike.
Candidates can put up any sign they like. It’ll either pay off at the polls … or not. But residents who are griping about sign size really need to take another look at their lives. It’s not a big deal.
And Magnan and the Democratic candidates who seem to have put the issue on the table should realize that handshake deals with Republicans as a way to undermine the rights given candidates by the First Amendment may be illegal. We have our rights as Americans and among them is the right to run for office and put our names on a big ol’ sign.
Personally, I don’t like political signs. They’re ugly. But I don’t like restrictions on free speech even more.