Irvine Asks Candidates to Hold Off on Planting Their Signs

Irvine City Council candidate Yunus Aksoy's campaign sign. He began putting his signs up in the spring for the November election. The city is now asking candidates to not put up signs until 60 days before the election. (Photo credit: unknown)

Yunus Aksoy believes in getting a head start on things. Case in point: He began blanketing Irvine with campaign signs for a City Council seat he is vying for in the spring…for an election that doesn’t happen until November.

Aksoy claims he needed the early exposure, and is unapologetic: “I reached my goal — I put my name out there,” he said.

Others said he went over the top. Pollster Adam Probolsky called Aksoy’s early signage a breech of “Political Sign Etiquette.” Two other council candidates told him that “it wasn’t right.”

And it seems to have at least something to do with a new policy that the City Council passed this week that calls for candidates to be asked to sign a pledge not to place campaign signs in public rights of way until 60 days before the election.

The pledge request, initiated by Councilman Larry Agran and approved by the council Tuesday night, comes in the form of a written statement candidates receive once they’ve pulled their nomination papers. Candidates, if they choose to do so, can sign the statement and file it with the city clerk.

The pledge request says campaign signs detract from the “beauty and safety of the community.”

Agran said Aksoy’s signs did not inspire the idea for the pledge, but that they did provide impetus in at least one sense.

“It underscored the reality of the state of the law now that would actually subject the city to having signs all the time,” Agran said.

Agran also said there is a cost involved in monitoring the signs and reaching out to landscape contractors who have to work around the signs. Tens of thousands of dollars alone have probably been spent on educating the landscapers, Agran said.

City officials say the pledge can be withdrawn at any time the candidate chooses. There are no enforcement mechanisms if candidates ignore their promise, so the pledge essentially relies on the honor system.

“We are appealing to their good sense of judgment,” said City Manager Sean Joyce.

Councilwoman Beth Krom expressed some concern about accountability for candidates who don’t pledge, or who pledge and then go back on their word.

Joyce said while the city is prohibited from punishing candidates for putting up the signs, he suggested accountability would come on Election Day.

Then again, signs do make a difference. Voice of OC published a story in May https://voiceofoc.org/countywide/county_government/article_1fa9e1c0-66e3-11df-a0e6-001cc4c03286.html on campaign signs and showed that while they might not always get the whole message across, they’re vital to a candidate’s name recognition.

And for candidates with less money, the signs might be all the candidates have to run with.

We’ll let you know who signs the pledge and who doesn’t. We’ll also tell you who doesn’t keep their promise.

— ADAM ELMAHREK

 

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