Speaking as a first-time candidate in the latest civic election here in Vernon, and as someone who will be running in the next one, it seems to me that the current bylaw banning signs outright is not the way to go.
When even the incumbent council members break the current bylaw, it’s clear that it isn’t working.
Everyone hates campaign signs.
And I mean everyone, including the folks who have to put them up and take them down. And signs get even less popular when some candidates decide to scatter them like dandelions on every corner and in waves down every main artery.
But name recognition is a big part of any campaign, and that’s especially true in municipal politics.
For someone just entering politics, it’s crucial to gain as much name recognition as possible in a short timespan, because even the best platform doesn’t stand a chance unless folks know the name of the candidate it belongs to.
And turnout for civic elections is already so dismally low that I sometimes suspect many folks wouldn’t even know there’s an election on if it weren’t for the signs.
So how should we recognize the need for signs on one hand and avoid making the city look like a garbage dump on the other?
Of the numerous ideas I’ve heard, one stands out as the most reasonable: Why not set a limit on the number of signs allowed, and fine candidates who go over that limit?
I used 50 signs this election, and many people tell me they weren’t aware of my name. So let’s say we allow each candidate to put up 100 signs at a time on city property, but no more.
This would allow every candidate to get their name out while limiting the clutter, and entice candidates to seek out private property owners willing to display signs in order to leverage exposure.
Signs are a crucial part of the democratic process, so I hope the new council can find a balanced way to solve the problem.