Sign agreement leads to lack of signs

No-election sign agreement dates back to 1990 in Agassiz

During any election season, excessive lawn signs can become an eyesore in many communities.

But that hasn’t been the case in Agassiz for many years.

For the past several elections, the District of Kent has mostly remained a sign-free zone.

Coun. Lorne Fisher said the decision to not post election signs came out of a “gentlemen’s and ladies’ agreement” many years ago. That was in 1990, confirmed Sylvia Pranger, a year she was running for council.

Instead of buying costly signs top put up around town, they decided to each donate $500 back to the community through a chosen charity. Pranger, who is running for re-election after a two-term break, said she will continue to follow the agreement. But she added that everyone is free to do what they choose.

“Everybody is able to have a voice,” she said. “I will make my own personal contribution to the food bank or whatever charity has been chosen. If someone is new, they may choose to do signs, but they may also choose to contribute to charity as well. It’s not a prescribed thing, we can choose to participate or not.”

She added that the money donated to the charity is not from campaign donations, but out of her own pocket.

In addition to this habit of not advertising on lawns and other green space, the District of Kent has an election sign bylaw that states no signs can up until 30 days before election day.

That means, by law, signs could start going up today. And they probably will.

Coun. Duane Post put up his signs last election, not knowing of the previous agreement. He told the Observer the agreement not to put up signs gives too much of an advantage to the better known candidates, and puts the newcomers at a disadvantage.

“How are you supposed to get your name known?” he asked.

The Observer informally polled its Facebook audience to see how they feel about the lack of signs, especially when compared to cities where prolific signage is evident at every intersection.

“Looks better,” wrote Michael Shaw. “No waste of materials cluttering the streets.”

Others noted that signs don’t play a big role in choosing council members.

“Signs don’t make a difference to my vote, so that’s just fine with me,” answered Rebecca Wood.

Even school board trustee candidate Leah Ochoa weighed in on the discussion.

“I like the idea of not creating extra waste,” she said. “I think that they were ahead of their time when they decided not to do signs. We live in a digital era that we can utilize so why not utilize it?”

But one commenter wasn’t getting too excited about the lack of election signs.

“It’s coming.” said Keith Myles. “Soon as one is put up it will all start.”

He may be right.

After council on Tuesday night, Fisher and Post poked a bit of fun at each other, wondering which of the two would be the first to dig out their old signs.

Both agreed that signs around town could help spark interest in the election, and by extension boost voter turnout.

In 2011, the provincial voter turnout was 29.55%. In Agassiz, voter turnout was 27.8%, with 932 voters casting ballots out of a potential 3,346. In Harrison Hot Springs, turnout was 60.5% with 691 voters turning up at polls out of a potential 1,141.

news@ahobserver.com

 

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