Candidates should clean up signage

Robert Gordon of Altoona made a good point in the Mirror’s Letters to the Editor column on Saturday.

“It has been nearly a month since the primary, and there are still some (candidate campaign) signs up,” he wrote, expressing the correct view that no signs should be littering the landscape anywhere near a month after balloting.

He recalled that when he was living in Oklahoma many years ago, a radio station offered 10 cents for each political sign collected after an election.

“Perhaps one of our TV or radio stations could do this,” Gordon concluded.

While Gordon’s suggestion is reasonable, the fact remains that candidates should be responsible enough to ensure that all of their signs are taken down in a reasonable amount of time after balloting is complete.

A reasonable amount of time should consist of no more than a week — even more preferably, no more than three days.

Candidates spend hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to have signs printed, some with just their names and the office they are seeking, others also containing a short message.

Those signs subsequently are “planted” along highways and in people’s yards.

While a private property owner can keep a political sign in his or her yard for however long, that isn’t proper along public highways or in other public venues.

A candidate who can dole out hundreds or thousands of dollars for printing costs and other campaign expenses should have the financial wherewithal to spend a few extra dollars, after the election, to drive around the area where his or her campaign signs were erected, either to remove signs or ensure that all have been removed by his or her campaign workers.

That’s applicable despite this state’s bloated gasoline tax, which has raised the price of the fuel well above what motorists in some other states, including neighboring Maryland, pay.

The bottom-line message is: If a person feels qualified to seek public office, he or she also should accept the responsibility of taking down campaign signs, whether or not the campaign was successful.

And, having run a successful primary-election campaign isn’t permission for a candidate to keep signs up until after November’s general election.

The general-election campaign season begins on or shortly after Labor Day. That is the time when campaign signs should begin reappearing, not remain in place during the summer, when probably one of the last thoughts on people’s minds is politics.

Although a TV or radio station wouldn’t be wrong in embarking on a sign-removal public-service project, candidates should be ensuring that such a project isn’t necessary. There are many other more valuable public-service ventures that stations could be pursuing.

Some people might pose this question: If a candidate doesn’t have enough public interest at heart on behalf of the environment, will he or she have the public interest fully at heart if he or she is elected or re-elected?

That’s a good question.

The sign issue really is a no-brainer, and qualified candidates always should ensure that they’re not contributing to it by way of inaction.