Election sign ‘clutter‘ is undeniably an opportunity for election sign vandalism. I recall we had plenty of both, a plethora of signs and vandalism here in Aurora during the municipal elections back in 2014. It definitely wasn’t hard to notice the visual clutter of signs everywhere. Wherever I glanced there was an army of campaign signs catching my attention. No joke, but my 5 year old then, was terrified of the ones with faces looking right at him; even more so of the vandalized ones.
That particular year, it was impressive to see how many Aurora residents had an appetite to make a difference in our Town because an all-time high 28 Council candidates and 2 Mayoral candidates chose to run in our municipal government elections about 4 years ago.
Sign clutter around the Town of Aurora definitely attracted typical kinds of sign vandalism. Signs were broken, wrecked, painted, and poked. Signs were also stolen. Those acts were totally offensive and unacceptable. And then there were scenarios where kids were innocently dragging damaged signs around schoolyards not knowing what to do with them. It was a total mess that included the painful view of scattered signs being blown around the streets during the windy days.
Four years ago there was only a temporary sign bylaw issued for the municipal election and obviously the unexpectedly high volume of candidates was not anticipated. After the elections, the sign clutter was bothersome to many; perhaps the act of stealing was one of the reasons to de-clutter the town. Who knows? However, I have good news. Rules for election signs are now part of the main Town of Aurora Sign Bylaw and there are provisions.
For those who are planning to run for municipal office, make an effort to study the Town of Aurora Sign Bylaw because it may affect your election sign design and purchase quantity. Briefly, some underlying bylaw amendments apply to the overall size of the election sign, how many signs can be placed on one intersection, restricted areas (for example, no more signs on roundabouts) and a list of Aurora street intersections a sign can be placed on (30 assigned intersections). In addition to town regulations it’s also recommended to check the regional regulations that apply.
Nevertheless, during the current Council term the Sign Bylaw was amended to include the use of other languages. The bylaw states that content on a sign other than English or French must include translation to either English or French. I can only assume that this also applies to election signs. Considering we are becoming a more and more diversified community I would not be surprised that text on election signs will start to appear in other languages. Better check with the Town on this as well.
Furthermore, if you know me by now, I like remembering the past. So I thought remembering past election signs around the town may be an entertaining way to conclude this post. Just so you know, reference to ‘you‘ in my memoirs applies to anybody, not just a campaigning person.
“I saw you walking along a regional road, carrying a hammer and contemplating the best visual spot to hammer your signs down. You didn’t win unfortunately, but I must say some good hammering skills you have. | I saw you at the darkest time of the day hovering between the signs at one of the intersection corners. You were trying to re-position your sign maybe because some other signs were blocking you. Glad that you didn’t get arrested and I will never know if you won since it was too dark to see. Frankly I only saw part of you, the part that looks always the same on all peoplekind. | I saw you looking at your sign from across the street. Looking if your sign is visible to everyone and trying to strategically re-position it. I wanted to tell you then that from my view where I was sitting in traffic, the other cars were blocking your sign, totally. | I saw you placing your smaller sign in front of much larger signs. Good strategy. Good thinking. Perhaps, next time get a little bigger text size for your name and your mission will be accomplished. | I saw many of your signs blocking a sign of one business, a business probably trying to survive here in Town. You know it is tough for some small businesses. Respect for others is appreciated. | I saw a few vandalized signs. Perhaps to make a point some of you didn’t remove your signs soon enough. In return your sign was the one dragged around the schoolyard. | I saw so many of you hovering around the Town and looking after your signs. I think it would have been more effective for you to stand on one corner each day and wave to people, just like that person wearing a pizza slice I see sometimes. | I saw you improvising. Different is good, but by the end of the term all of you are the same, exhausted and annoyed of each other. | I didn’t see a night thief stealing one of your signs from my lawn; but I am sure the same thief on the same night stole a campaign sign from across the street too. I didn’t know that they were that valuable. | Perhaps it wasn’t you, but someone collected a bunch of your signs and hid them in the opening of a retaining wall. It was at the Joint Operation Centre. | To conclude, after the election while I was still processing if the public made the right decision electing Council 2014, I missed you all cleaning up after yourselves. Some of you were very fast (thumbs up), and some of you very slow, way past the clean up due date (thumbs down). I’ll be generous this time and no picture. I’ll assume that you simply forgot where you placed your sign and were still looking for it, just like squirrels sometimes forget where they hide their nuts.“
Note, the memoirs above are also a hint for the next election. As many people are turning more and more to do their research on the Internet, I suggest that you dedicate more time to online marketing of your campaign instead of exhausting time babysitting your election signs around the town.
For your information, in Ontario municipal government elections are held every four years on the fourth Monday of October; therefore this year’s election falls on Monday, October 22nd, 2018.
I miss Evelyn Buck at Council chambers.
Anna Lozyk Romeo