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Campaign signs likely here to stay
Unique election schedule means constant advertisements
Political signs line the street Wednesday on Jesse Jewell Parkway. According to Gainesville city officials, signs should be removed within seven days of an election; according to Hall County code, obsolete signs must be removed within 30 days of an election. - photo by SARA GUEVARA
Election calendar
June 7: Early voting begins for the primary
June 8: Special election runoff for U.S. House 9th District
June 21: Last day to register to vote in state primary
July 20: State primary
Aug. 10: State primary runoff, if needed
Sept. 21: Special election to fill vacancies
Oct. 4: Last day to register to vote in general election
Nov. 2: General election
Nov. 30: General election
runoff, if needed

Eleven candidates in the recent special election naturally leads to a lot of leftover signs. But with a unique election schedule this year, the signs may not be going anywhere soon.

Following the May 11 election to fill the remaining terms of U.S. House Rep. Nathan Deal and state Sen. Lee Hawkins, two candidates will be on the ballot again in a June 8 runoff, before several candidates run once again in the July 20 primary, before some candidates finally make it to the general election in November.

According to Hall County code, obsolete signs are supposed to be removed within 30 days of an election.

“The main issue is that this is kind of an active election season,” Hall County Planning Director Randy Knighton said. “You have multiple elections, and then you have runoffs. Certain candidates will have to run multiple times, so those signs will be up longer than usual.”

Gainesville Code Enforcement Manager Gary Kansky said the city typically gives candidates seven days following an election before they remove the signs. Candidates who are still running for office will not be bothered, he said.

“If a candidate loses, he needs to go get his signs,” Kansky said.

Knighton said so far he is unaware of any complaints about the remaining campaign signs.

“Generally during this time of year there is an expectation that election signs will be out,” Knighton said. “I imagine for the next few months that we’ll see those signs.”

Andre Niles, director of the Hall County Marshals Office, said the main issue with signs is when they are in a road right of way.

“We could write a citation or remove that sign,” Niles said. “If they’re off the right of way then there’s nothing we can do about them.”

Kansky said a number of signs were placed in the right of way of city roads.

“We’ve had a few problems of signs being where they should not have been,” he said.

Signs placed at intersections also will be removed if they block drivers’ ability to see into roadways, Kansky said.

“It’s a safety issue,” he added.

Generally, the code enforcement department is able to resolve issues with candidates.

“We just try to work with them,” Kansky said.

Niles said campaign signs are not the only things placed in rights of way. Many people illegally put up real estate signs, yard sale advertisements and even memorial crosses.

Niles said his department often asks people to move them, rather than issue a citation.

“The sign thing is a real, real, touchy issue,” Niles said. “It’s, more or less, try to educate the public not to put signs on the right of way.”

Another problem with campaign signs is that candidates often can’t keep track of them all.

“They don’t know where they actually have signs sometimes,” Niles said.