can’t you read the signs?

View looking east on Broadway near Flat Creek.

At the outset of my campaign for town council, I encountered skepticism from political veterans who doubted whether I could win without yard signs. So far, the response has been fantastic. We’ll find out for sure in six days.

Now that the community has been inundated for another month with these plastic and paper placards, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate their effectiveness.

As the photo above illustrates, a driver heading east on Broadway is confronted by a barrage of confusing and even conflicting messages: guns, Turley, education, 2 acres for sale. In the second or two it takes to pass this display, the brain strains to even process the imagery. And let’s not touch the garish lawn of Cutty’s, a biennial eyesore.

Around town, there are so many Morton, Cameron and Genzer signs everywhere that it’s hard to tell whether any has some sort of visual advantage. (Assume every house without a sign supports Stanford. Just kidding!)

Claire Fuller, Democratic candidate for Teton County commissioner, has resisted putting up many signs. She has reused about 20 left over from her previous run for office and had four banners made this year. Still, she has fielded calls from supporters upset that she isn’t putting up more signs, as if that correlated to effort.

Claire Fuller

To Fuller, an avowed conservationist, the signs just become “noise” and lead to a less informed electorate, she says.

On her campaign blog, Melissa Turley, the other Democratic candidate for county, writes that posting yard signs is one of the strongest ways for citizens to exercise their democratic rights. “I understand that some people don’t appreciate the proliferation of yard signs during election season, but this simple action tells your friends and neighbors that you trust a candidate with your vote to make the best possible decisions for you and your family,” she writes.

I certainly appreciate and support citizens’ right to express themselves, having wielded a few homemade signs of my own for various events. In choosing not to use campaign signs, I don’t mean to denigrate other candidates.

I’ve made my choice for several reasons: First, I’ve always been annoyed by the proliferation of yard signs, so there’s no way I would turn around and use them in my campaign. Second, it shows I’m serious about conserving resources (and money). And third, it shows I’m not afraid to do something differently.

County Commissioner Ben Ellis chose not to print any plastic signs for his 2010 re-election bid; instead he repainted old doors salvaged from Habitat ReStore.

In several previous campaigns I’ve been associated with, candidates said they detested yard signs but felt they had to use them. That will never change unless voters reward those willing to take a stand.

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