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Campaign signs taking over Dawsonville
City considers a new ordinance
Campaign signs line Academy Avenue in downtown Dawsonville. - photo by Tom Reed

It would be hard not to notice there’s an upcoming election for clerk of court in Dawsonville.

At virtually every turn of downtown, campaign signs large and small line the sides of streets, dot yards and loom over empty lots.

“There’s just too many of them,” said Dawsonville Mayor Joe Lane Cox. “It seems like they just got carried away this time. It doesn’t look good.”

Most of the placards are for candidates in the crowded 10-person race for Dawson County clerk of court, though there are a few for other contested elections. In some areas, signs for opposing candidates are planted in the same patch of land. In a few places, it appears they are on public rights-of-way.

“I think they’re unsightly,” said Diane Sexton, a Dawsonville resident. “It’s because there are so many candidates. They’re just taking over. We’re inundated with them.”

According to the Georgia Department of Transportation, it’s considered a misdemeanor to place a sign along a right-of-way of a public road. The right-of-way is generally where highways, railroads or power lines are built and maintained.

Dawson County manager Kevin Tanner said the larger campaign signs seen around the county had to be permitted by the planning department.

Signs on public rights-of-way may be picked up by the marshal’s office or DOT officials, though Tanner said he didn’t believe they had time to do it “on a daily basis.”

Cox, the mayor, said he believed the DOT was too short-handed to pick up all the road signs this campaign season. A DOT spokesperson couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday.

The mayor said the city council discussed the proliferation of campaign signs during its Monday meeting.

“We decided to let is slide this time,” he said. “We’re working on a new sign ordinance and will try to get it in place by the November election.”

The ordinance would limit the number of signs that could be in a single area, and more attention would be paid to right-of-way violations, Cox said.

“We’re going to try to control it somehow or another,” Cox said. “It just got out of hand.”

Not everyone is bothered by the signs.

“As long as they clean them up when it’s over, it doesn’t bother me,” said Dawsonville’s Nicole Odom. “How else are you going to know who’s running?”

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