We’re sure you’ve seen them.
They dot yards in most neighborhoods. They line the public roadways you travel to get to school or work each day. They might even be something you’ve put up in support of your candidate of choice.
Or maybe you haven’t seen them, since local officials have noted reports of political yard signs being stolen.
It’s an issue that affects both parties.
Andrew Sabak, chairman of the Marion County Republican Party, said he’s heard complaints from some candidates that their signs have been disappearing, and Belinda Biafore, Democratic Party county chairwoman, said that even though she isn’t aware of widespread instances of Democratic signs being stolen, some candidates have reported issues.
Sabak said that because political yard signs are seen as any other form of advertising, with the purpose of the signs being to raise a candidate’s profile and public recognition, stealing the signs is intended to lower that profile and make the candidate look less supported.
“I’m sure people who don’t really understand the process ... probably think, ‘He’s running against my friend; I’m going to make his sign disappear,’” Biafore added.
Of course, disappearing signs doesn’t necessary mean they’re being stolen.
As with anything, there are rules regarding the placement of political signs, and at its garage, the West Virginia Division of Highways keeps a stack of signs that have been removed from places they shouldn’t have been. But as long as signs are in a person’s yard or at least 20 feet from the center line of a roadway and not obstructing the view of oncoming traffic, they’re well within those rules.
We are disappointed when we hear reports of political signs being stolen. When you think of the time, energy and money candidates put into making sure their signs are out, it’s discouraging to realize there are people in Marion County who have so little respect for freedom of speech and the right to vote.
So our plea is simple: Just leave the signs alone.
“I always tell people that signs don’t vote,” Biafore said. Whether a candidate has 10, 100 or 1,000 signs, “I don’t think it makes a difference,” so removing those signs probably won’t have an impact on the race.
“(When you steal signs), what you are doing is violating the moral concept of civility in an election,” Sabak said. “We have to be sure that political campaigns and attitudes are respected, and this undermines that possibility.”
It not only undermines it, but stealing political yard signs is something that’s against the law. In fact, stealing any signs at all can result in a charge of petit larceny, which is a misdemeanor, and if signs are being taken off private property, trespassing charges might also apply.
So again, we say just leave the political yard signs alone.
Until Wednesday, that is. While we certainly do not approve of the stealing of political signs, we hope that once the election is over — and regardless of the outcome — candidates will be swift in taking down the signs they have placed throughout the county.
But with just two days left before Election Day, we have to keep courtesy in mind. There might be a lot of political signs, and they might be for a candidate or issue you don’t personally support, but if the signs have been placed legally, leave them there.
We’re sure you’ve seen them.
COLUMN: Freedom of Information — if you can pay
Several years ago, I made a Freedom of Information request to a local government agency. Within the five business days, as required by law, a packet of information was delivered to the office. I expected a bill, as most government offices have a charge that ranges from 25 cents to $1.25 per page for copies of the documents we request.
The reassuring spirit of Easter: One of new hope and beginnings
During the sub-zero and snow-filled months of winter, we maintained a spirit of hope that spring was on the way. It has now become a reality as all nature stretches and yawns and awakens once more to a new beginning. The fragrance of spring awakens our waiting nostrils, the budding beauty of new life brightens our eyes, and the reassuring idea of renewal stimulates our minds.
Unsung heroes handling calls in emergencies are appreciated
Thankfully, we live in a community where help is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, just by dialing three numbers — 9-1-1.
During this week, which is recognized as National Public Safety Tele-Communicator’s Week nationwide, we need to remember that on the other end of that line are the men and women here in this county who are always there in case of accident, crimes, medical emergencies and any other catastrophic event.
Message to ‘buckle up and park the phone’ is saving lives
A figure that we haven’t seen that much in recent years is the highway death toll for a given period.
Is the death toll up, down or just about the same as it was?
The West Virginia Southern Regional Highway Safety Program has announced there were 325 highway fatalities in 2013, the second-lowest number on record.
State native Burwell can ‘deliver results’ as Health and Human Services secretary
Sylvia Mathews Burwell might not be a name with which most people are immediately familiar.
For the past year, she has run the budget office under President Barack Obama.
Prior to that, she served as president of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program and later the Wal-Mart Foundation.
Marion scores well in recent health report but could do better
When it comes to area-wide studies, especially on health, there’s usually good news and bad news.
So was the recent report on the health of America’s counties released by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation recently. The nationwide county study evaluated health outcomes and health factors, and ranked counties accordingly.
COLUMN: ‘Instant’ news not always reliable
That little word has a pretty big meaning. With origins that date back to the 15th century, it means urgent, current, immediate.
But think about how that word has developed over the past few decades.
Instant pudding. Instead of slaving over a hot stove for a few minutes, you can now pour cold milk and with a bit of stirring, instant pudding!
Decision to be an organ donor can save lives
Chelsea Clair watched as her father died waiting for a bone marrow transplant.
So when she met Kyle Froelich at a car show in 2009 and heard about his struggles to find a kidney that would match his unique needs, she never hesitated to offer hers to the man she just met.
Volunteers continue to have priceless impact on community
Chances are, you know someone who volunteers. Perhaps you’re a volunteer yourself.
Marion County is full of volunteers.
They read to our youth.
They assist nonprofit agencies.
They serve on boards and committees.
And in 2013, they spent a day picking up nearly 10 tons of garbage that had been tossed out on public property around Marion County.
Proposed school calendar lives up to letter and spirit of law
West Virginia state law requires that students be in a classroom for 180 days.
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