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Businesses sign on to campaigns
Some avoid picking sides during elections; others openly back candidates
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Election 2012 calendar

July 31: State primary for legislative, local races (registration deadline July 2)
Aug. 21: Primary runoff, if necessary
Nov. 6: Election Day (registration deadline Oct. 8)
Dec. 4: General election runoff, if necessary

When her boss at Title Xchange saw a campaign sign on his Browns Bridge Road business property, Michelle Williams said he wanted to know which of the employees had allowed it.

It turned out that the sign’s placement there had been a mix-up.

On the other side of the building, there are two campaign signs near the property but in the road’s right of way.

Williams said her boss likes to keep business separate from politics. The policy keeps Title Xchange from ever having to discuss why they like a candidate their customer might ... well, not endorse.

“We try to stay away from the judging,” she said. “You don’t want to be put in that light.”

But there are some businesses who don’t mind putting their views out for all to see.

Some of the firms on Green Street wear their political hearts on their sleeves.

Seasons Transport, a logistics company, sports a sign for a candidate for Hall County sheriff, on its lawn. But Cindy Williamson, the company’s treasurer, says that Seasons often puts out signs showing support in various elections.

“Generally speaking, the people we put the signs (out) for are friends of ours,” said Cindy Williamson, the company’s treasurer.

Because the company works mostly with out-of-state customers, and the candidates it normally supports are running for local offices, Seasons Transport doesn’t have to worry about controversy the way others might.

Even if they did have local customers, Williamson said she’s not sure Seasons would worry.

“If we felt like we were supporting a good moraled person with good values, then that’s our opinion,” she said.

Rick Bullard is a little more cautious about picking political sides.

Bullard manages the Leggs Package Store on Browns Bridge Road where, right outside, there’s a sign for a candidate for probate judge.

“This is just somebody I approve of,” Bullard said of the sign.

This year is the first time that Bullard has allowed a political candidate to put a sign in front of the store. And when he discusses it, Bullard is careful not to alienate his customers.

The sign, he said, has “nothing to do with the other candidates,” nor does it show that he is opposed to any of the others. It’s just that he knows the candidate shares his views in a “general sense.”

“If the other ones running for that office want to come up and put a poster right next to it, we would allow that, too — for that office. But we wouldn’t want to get the whole place covered up,” Bullard said, adding that he wouldn’t want the sign of a candidate that he disapproved of.

He also said one of the reasons the sign is out there is because probate judge usually is a low-profile race, meaning few of his customers likely feel strongly about the candidates.

He’s hesitant to put views on higher profile races, from county commissioners to the presidency, out for scrutiny.

“Even though on a personal level you may have your favorites, but when it comes to business, everybody is your customer — everybody is your potential customer,” Bullard said.

“We don’t care if someone’s Democrat, Republican, Independent, Green Party or a Martian — you don’t care — you need customers and you want those customers and you don’t want to offend anybody.”

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