Jul 28, 2014

Sign Removal on Election Day Prompts Change

The city of University City will update its ordinance after candidate signs were removed from a polling place.

Sign Removal on Election Day Prompts Change

An election day complaint has led to a review and eventual update of University City's zoning ordinances.

On April 3, a call to questioned the legality of municipal election candidate signs in the right of way near a polling place. A review of U City's zoning ordinance found this to be a violation and city workers removed the signs.

Within a few hours and some questions by candidates, the signs were allowed to be put back up. 

Signs were only removed at two polling locations.

Councilman Byron Price said in working 30 elections in University City, signs have always been allowed near a polling place on election day.

"This has never, ever been an issue," he said. "How did on that day, in those places, in that time did people think signs could be removed?"

City Manager Lehman Walker agreed the removal of signs broke with precedent and took responsibilty for the actions of city employees who removed the signs.

"I take full responsibility," he said. "Our ordinance is very clear. Political signs are not permitted on city property."

Walker said the issue came up this year because a citizen called in to complain. Walker then reviewed the ordinance with the city's attorney and agreed the signs violated the current code.

He presented a new draft ordinance to be reviewed by the plan commission and voted on by the city council in a future meeting.

"This is the ordinance that this council passed," Councilwoman Lynn Ricci said. "The flaws rest with this dias and not with the city manager. His job is to enforce the laws as written."

Two citizens commented on the sign removal.

"I want to thank Lehman Walker for addressing the political signs on election day issue," Nova Felton told the board. "I am a roving deputy for the board of election and I have never seen signs removed from public places on election day."

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