WILLIAMSON – As the campaign season continues, candidates continue to report illegally placed and missing campaign signs throughout Mingo County.
In Mingo County, the placement of signs on utility poles has been an ongoing issue throughout the campaign season.
On Friday, April 1, The Secretary of Transportation, Paul Mattox issued a press release informing political candidates and groups of outdoor advertising regulations.
“The law bans political signs and stickers from right of way locations, especially highway shoulders, traffic signs or devices, trees, stones, fence posts and utility poles,” Mattox states. “In addition to being illegal, political ‘bumper stickers’ on Highways’ signs cost state taxpayers thousands of dollars each year because signs must be replaced. DOH workers will pull any signs from state right- of – ways and for a short time, will store them in county highways offices to be picked up by candidates or their representatives.”
The press release also reminds that a violation of these laws could result in fines. The West Virginia State Code concerning the removal, defacing, etc. of signs states that, “Any person who willfully or maliciously displaces, removes, destroys or injures a mile board, milestone, danger-sign, signal, guide-sign, guidepost, highway sign, or historical marker or any inscription thereon, lawfully within or adjacent to a highway, or who in any manner paints, prints, places, puts or affixes any advertisement upon or to any rock, stone, tree, fence, stump, pole, mile-board, milestone, danger-sign, guide-sign, guidepost, highway sign, historical marker, building or other subject lawfully within the limits of any highway, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and shall be punished accordingly.”
Another concern among candidates is the removal of political signs. Two candidates have spoken with the Williamson Daily News throughout the last several weeks after their political signs were removed.
On Wednesday, another candidate stated that her political signs have also been disappearing along the Mingo County campaign trail.
Teresa McCune, candidate for Mingo County Circuit Judge, has also stepped forward stating that her signs have been removed. McCune reports that a magnetic sign on her personal vehicle was taken as well as other signs that had been placed along roadways and in yards earlier in the campaign season.
“I was headed to the Dingess area to campaign. As I was travelling on 119 toward Lenore, I noticed that every single sign was taken. I had permission from homeowners to place every sign that I have placed. I do not place signs without permission. It is very upsetting,” McCune stated.
Purchasing campaign signs are expensive for the candidate. An article found on the Campaign and Elections website states that the number of signs needed for an election can be quickly determined by the, “Number of voters in the district multiplied by expected turnout multiplied by vote goal divided by six equals the number of signs to order.” Shawn Williamson,with iDesignGraphixs, explained that “For an 18 by 24 size sign the price ranges from $3.25 to $5 each depending on how many are ordered and if the sign is single or double sided. The four by four sized signs range from$30.50 to $65 each and the four by eight signs range from about $75 to $115 each.”
However, McCune explained that, “It isn’t the expense. It is just nasty. It is disheartening that people act this way. I am trying to run a clean campaign and be fair.”
On the other hand, McCune explains that there is also a positive to having signs removed. “Even though it’s frustrating to have things stolen, it’s good to know the powers that be are threatened by an independent candidate,”McCune stated.
Regardless of how sign removal impacts the individual candidate, those that remove political signs are committing a crime. Taking a political sign is considered petit larceny. Also, if a sign is removed from private property, homeowners could file trespassing charges. Under the West Virginia State Code, both petit larceny and trespassing are considered misdemeanor offenses.
(Courtney Pigman is a news reporter for the Williamson Daily News. She can be contacted at [email protected], or at 304-235-4242 ext. 2271.)