MOUNT VERNON — Some lessons are best learned by trial and error, and for Tyler Fehrman, candidate for Mount Vernon City Council, recent notification to remove several of his campaign signs was a good experience for the young aspirant.
“I’ve done pretty much every part of [campaigning] except the candidate side and it’s very much a learning experience, but I am enjoying every minute of it,” said Fehrman.
In November 2008, Fehrman decided to run for City Council, thinking to help Mount Vernon and give back what the community has given to him. Like most political candidates, Fehrman started campaigning several months prior to the Nov. 3 election, including putting out political signs. However, putting up signs prior to 45 days before the election violates city ordinance.
“[Signs] are allowed to be up 45 days before election and they have to be removed three days after the election,” said David Glass, Mount Vernon city safety-service director. “Six square feet are as big as they are allowed to be, and I don’t think any of them are bigger than that.”
Political campaign signs are not allowed to be illuminated, and cannot create a safety or visibility hazard, and cannot be affixed to any public utility pole or tree. The signs have to be on private property and cannot be on a public right of way.
“Several of the signs we had out we actually believed they were outside of city limits; those were the ones on Mansfield Road,” said Fehrman. “And the signs in front of the Knox County Fair, those are outside of city limits and the county doesn’t have any [rules] regarding signs that would restrict us from putting those out during fair week.
“Then there was a question of the signs on Sychar Road, and there was one, in the front yard of a good friend of our family. It has been kind of a typical practice, at least during countywide elections, that during fair week anyone can put up their signs just during the week so as long as they go down at the end. However, this time, apparently, that has changed, so I went ahead and took those down about midweek.”
Fehrman said his supporters have been very encouraging in helping with the campaign signs, but he understands there are rules involved.
“I’ve worked on 18 different campaigns in five states and the majority of those have been in Ohio. There are a whole lot of regulations and I did know that the city’s rule was that you have to wait 45 days prior to the election [before putting up signs],” said Fehrman. “As soon as it was called to our attention we had the signs down within 24 hours.”
Glass said political signs are exempt from requiring a permit, so they are not like other temporary signs.
“As soon as I called [Fehrman], he went out and took them down,” said Glass. “He does have some out by the fairgrounds, but those are outside of the city. The ones that we can enforce are the signs that are inside of the city limits.”
Because signs have been put up early in previous years, the city has made a greater effort to inform both political parties of the rules relating to campaigning within city limits.
“One thing [the city] has done a better job of in the last several years, is six months ahead of [election season] we put both parties on notice, just to remind them of what the rules are. And they have been a lot better [in complying],” said Glass.