There seems to be some confusion about when it’s OK for local candidates to erect political yard signs in Tracy.
The City Clerk’s office has apparently received a handful of phone calls about political signs that have been posted around town, a few of which belong to City Council candidate Larry Hite, a local home inspector.
Hite said he’s had about 50 yard signs made and handed several of them out to supporters. A few are in front lawns now.
Before Hite handed out his signs, he called Carole Fleischmann in the clerk’s office to see whether it was OK to put the signs up.
“I’m new at this, and I’ve made a point about asking about everything,” he said.
The assistant city clerk told the candidate that as long as the yard signs are on private property in people’s yards, it’s OK to display them, Hite and Fleischmann said.
The city’s municipal code says that candidates can erect political yard signs 45 days before an election, which this year falls on Sept. 20, but makes no mention of public property versus private property. The signs also must be taken down five days after the election, the code says.
Hite said he even received a call from his friend and fellow candidate Steve Abercrombie, a city councilman, who told Hite he wasn’t supposed to have signs up sooner than 45 days before the election.
Marlene Jones lives near Tennis Lane and has volunteered to walk her precinct for mayoral candidate Celeste Garamendi.
Jones was a little bothered when she saw Hite signs in front yards on Tennis Lane, because Garamendi told her to wait until 45 days before the election to put up her banners.
“I just thought to myself, I understand he wants to get a head start because he’s a new candidate, but it should be a level playing field,” she said. “I’m not anti-Larry Hite. I really don’t know him.”
When she heard Hite was told it’s OK to erect signs on private property, Jones said, “If that’s the case, I guess everybody can put them up. I thought we were just following the law.”
City building inspector and code enforcement officer Jim Decker said he knows of no complaints to the city about yards signs.
Even if it had, code enforcement officers in the city are swamped with vacant properties in foreclosure and abandoned swimming pools that can spread the West Nile virus.
“Realistically, political signs are real low on the priority list,” Decker said.