Craig Editorial Board, Jan. to March 2012
- Al Cashion, community representative
- Jeff Pleasant, community representative
- Bryce Jacobson, newspaper representative
- Bridget Manley, newspaper representative
- Chris Nichols, community representative
- Josh Roberts, newspaper representative
The Craig City Council would be wise to follow the city attorney’s advice regarding political yard signs. Residents have a right to express support for their preferred candidates, and restricting such activity is counter-productive to political involvement.
One look around town lately is enough to reinforce what most already know — that, if it hadn’t already, campaign season has truly arrived, and in full force.
Yard signs touting the candidacies of many state and local candidates for public office dot (some might say, litter) the landscapes of Craig and Moffat County neighborhoods.
It’s in these signs that our community has its second election-related question of the year, although one that doesn’t pack quite the same punch as the Hatch Act controversy months ago.
The Craig City Council has received legal advice from city attorney Kenny Wohl recommending the governing body avoid regulating political signs in residents’ yards.
It seems there was once a municipal ordinance regulating political signs, but the ordinance is now missing from the city’s land use codes, and may have been deleted when the city amended the codes three years ago.
Perhaps this unintended omission is a good thing.
Not all legal advice is good advice, certainly, but Wohl seems to be right on the mark here, Editorial Board members contend.
Through his research of the issue, which included reviewing court cases brought against other Colorado municipalities, Wohl told the council many courts have been striking down yard sign regulations because the signs are considered political rather than commercial speech.
Infringing on political speech is a violation of the First Amendment, Wohl reported to the council.
But, the legal advice only adds to the common sense argument, Editorial Board members contend.
Residents have a right to do as they wish when it comes to political involvement. Government interference simply has no place regarding this issue.
Also, at a time when citizen voting and political involvement are reaching all-time lows, regulating signs could cause more residents to refrain from participating in the political process.
That’s something no one wants, and would be contrary to the common good.
The Editorial Board considers Wohl’s recommendation a practical stance on the signs.
However, the hands-off approach shouldn’t allow residents to act irresponsibly when it comes to signs.
And, most importantly, they should be taken down in a timely fashion.
Other than that, residents should exercise their opinions how they choose.
This issue doesn’t warrant government intervention.
Hopefully, the city council will agree with Wohl’s recommendation and leave residents to play a part in shaping who their next elected leaders will be, even if that’s exercised on the front lawn.