Controversy has one Vernon mayoralty candidate yanking out election signs.
Mary-Jo O’Keefe is relocating signs from public right-of-way to private property because some residents have challenged an Oct. 14 council decision to not enforce the sign bylaw unless there are safety and liability complaints.
“We have had letters to city hall on a daily basis that say councillors are above the law,” said O’Keefe, a current councillor who voted in favour of not enforcing the bylaw during the election.
“That’s not the impression I want people to have of me.”
The bylaw doesn’t allow election signs on public right-of-way and while signs have been allowed to proliferate in previous years, city staff this year had given a copy of the bylaw to all candidates. City administration had recommended enforcing the bylaw even if a public complaint had not been received.
“I still believe election signs should be allowed but there’s enough controversy taking away from election issues,” said O’Keefe.
Among those concerned about council’s actions is Wade Cantalope, of Elephant Storage Centre. In protest, he has posted “Vote Elephant Storage” signs along roadsides.
“If you are running for office, are you automatically above the law?” he said.
“They actually make the bylaw and they don’t have to follow it.”
O’Keefe is suggesting the bylaw be amended to permit election signs on right-of-way during a defined period as a way of avoiding future conflict.
“There is such low voter turnout and if we can get people involved, we should do it,” she said of creating awareness about candidates.
Victor Cumming says his mayoralty campaign team is determining where his signs should be located, but he admits they were originally on private property.
“We were told by the city that’s the way it was but on Oct. 14, we got notice from city hall (that the bylaw was suspended) and they went up (on right-of-way) after that,” he said.
Candidate Klaus Tribes is not concerned that he has signs posted along roads.
“We do have the ability to use public right-of-way and we will use the advantage,” he said.
“It’s a time when people want to know who is running.”
Tribes also supports amending the bylaw to officially sanction election signs on right-of-way.
Akbal Mund says his mayoralty signs will only be installed on private property.
“If I want to be a leader, I lead by example,” he said.
“I am not saying what others are doing is wrong but I have to uphold my own integrity.”
Jamie Morrow says bylaws should be enforced, but he admits he is contemplating following the lead of other candidates and putting some signs on public land.
“It’s an ethical issue but you have to fight to get your name out.”