This early warm spring has brought green buds to trees, pollen to the air, gorgeous daffodils, and political campaign signs to our parks and yards letting us all know that there will be a Town Election on May 1. Up for election is our Town Council and Mayor, all of whom currently serve a two year, at large term. All candidates run as independents, without any party affiliation, which allows Federal employees, including military, to serve.
But getting back to the signs, a necessary evil in any electoral process. Even though I am an incumbent and again seeking election to Town Council, I admit to not being overly fond of political campaign signs as they make the Town look messy and obstruct the view of our normally beautiful parks, gardens and yards. I'd much rather see your daffodils blooming than signs!
Luckily, signs are governed by the Town's Zoning Ordinance as well as Virginia State Code. Political signs are exempt from receiving a sign permit but must adhere to town standards (specifically Section 78-202.7 of the zoning ordinance), which limits size to a total of nine square feet, prohibits the illumination of signs, and requires signs to be installed in a location that does not cause any potential traffic sight distance problems.
As far as location goes, signs may be displayed on public property that the Town has set aside specifically: these Town-owned properties are where candidates for public office may put up campaign signs: Runnymede Park, Town Hall Square, Spring Street Park, Trailside Park, Town Shop, Cuttermill Park, Haley M. Smith Park and the grass area to the north of Artspace at 750 Center Street.
Campaign signs are permitted to be displayed 60 days prior to the General Election, so signs can go up as of March 1. Virginia Code allows signs to be posted at outside official polling places during the times the polls are open and ballots are being counted, but they are not permitted within 40 feet of any entrance of any polling place. (Fairfax County has a very helpful FAQ section on campaign signs at: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpz/faqs/signsfaq.htm)
Candidates also received a reminder from the Town concerning the correct location for campaign signs on town property. Candidates may not place signs "within flower beds, at the base of permanent signs and in the brick planter beds located along the sidewalks within the downtown, including the sidewalk beds adjacent to Elden Street next to Town Hall."
Campaign signs are never permitted in the public right-of-way, such as along sidewalks or in median strip. Signs are never permitted on any part of the W&OD Trail, which is governed by the Northern Virginia Regional Parks Authority.
So if you see campaign signs in public places and parks that aren't specifically listed above, please call the Town or the candidates directly to have them removed. Please do not remove the signs yourself.
If you are a private homeowner or business and would like an approved political sign to display on your property, please contact the candidates individually to get one delivered - Patch has a directory of all candidates here.
And best of all, campaign signs must be removed by all candidates within 15 days of the election. In Herndon, candidates are typically more responsible and strive to get all of their signs down and back to their garages the day afterwards!