Election signs make their appearance on front lawns - when should signs go up? Is mid September fair to first time candidates?

council 100x100By Pepper Parr

September 15, 2014



City hall sort of bungled the whole election sign business.

Ward 6 candidate James Curran took the position that the city did not have the right to tell people when they could put their election signs up and pointed to an Ontario Superior Court decision saying such a by-law is “beyond the jurisdiction of any municipality” and, adds Curran “was passed to assist incumbents with their plans to get re-elected. I would note” he adds, “that Burlington has had a high propensity to re-elect incumbents.

Curran signs 2 gruntCurran wrote the interim city manager to point this out to him – but got no response. Curran took the position that there were bigger and better hills to climb and vowed that when he gets to Council – he will be bringing this up.
Curran feels that the incumbents have the benefit if basically free advertising in City Talk – the city’s in house magazine that does puff pieces and tries to convince the citizens that they are doing a great job.

Based on the rule the city had in place – signs can go up six weeks before election day – which would have made Monday the 15th the start day. Then the bylaw control officer sent out an email to candidates saying they could start on the 12th.

One wonders who is calling the election shots at city hall.

At least two candidates were out on the street pushing their signs into lawns. Jim Curran says he has hundreds of locations – we saw just the one. In a couple of days more signs will appear and we will get some sense of the level of support a candidate has.

Carol Gottlob in ward 4 ordered 500 signs and then “press ganged” her sons, Peter and Carl into assembling and putting them into lawns. “I’m looking for strategic locations: said Gottlob. “I want as much visibility as I can get”

Gottlob signs - front lawn Carol laughing

For the Gottlob family – this election is Mom and her two boys and whoever they can find to volunteer. New signs go up on a lawn. Is the laughing about the sign or those running shoes?

And so the sign game begins. Candidates are announcing their campaign kickoff dates with Marianne Meed Ward launching Monday at the Art Gallery of Burlington and ward 1 contender Katherine Henshell kicking off next week.

Up until Wednesday of last week Mayor Goldring was thinking about the party he would hold once his acclamation was announced. The Gazette was in touch with the City Clerk asking how this gets done. Angela Morgan explained that on the Friday she would review all the documents candidates had filed to ensure they were all in order and if there was just the one candidate for a ward seat or Office of the Mayor she would advise that person that they had been acclaimed.

On Thursday Goldring suddenly found himself facing a candidate he knew little about and a day later learned that Anne Marsden, a consistent and persistent advocate for people who have physical disabilities, was also in the race.
Marsden would probably not have entered the race on her own, but with a second candidate on the ballot she apparently saw an opportunity to press her agenda. Marsden delegates frequently at city hall and the Region. The Region found that her delegations were taking up time and not adding anything to the public discussion about what local government can do for those with disabilities and asked that she not register to delegate in the future.

Marsden wanted to see the rail on the pier lowered so that people in wheel chairs could have an unrestricted view of the lake. When city hall staff explained that the height of the rail is determined by the province`s building code she continued to press for change.

The purpose of a local election is to attract people who have some experience and a skill set that would allow them to make a meaningful contribution and serve as stewards for the public on how public money is spent.

Marsden has a single issue that gets hammered again and again and again – so much so that the point she wants to make is lost and they get referred to as nuisance candidates.


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5 comments to Election signs make their appearance on front lawns – when should signs go up? Is mid September fair to first time candidates?

  • Cliff

    Good work Jane – your physical exertion for putting up all those signs is fantastic. Running for election is hard work – and you’re obviously up to the task.

    Did you apply the same mental exertion and notify the press of your endeavors to gain media coverage for your sign erections – or are you expecting them to tail your every move, like paparazzi?

    A candidate’s media campaign is NOT initiated by the press! This must be predetermined and strategically executed by the candidate.

    As for the debate? I believe another of the thousands of readers of the Burlington Gazette already suggested that you organize a debate for you and your peers. If you haven’t the wherewithal to do this yourself, find a sponsor who will.

    Please consider taking some initiative — and please stop your whining. It really isn’t flattering for you.

    • Thanks for the heads up Cliff, hadn’t thought of that!?! Don’t worry about me, I got it. Just for the record, I don’t whine. Is this anonymous? No last name? You know me but U don’t know you?

  • Shannon Gillies

    Excellent point, Jane. I’m quite sure that more than two candidates were “out on the street pushing their signs into lawns” over the weekend. The date was September 13–the day after nomination day.

  • Mr.Bean

    The sign for Jim Curran does not tell me what position he thinks we in ward 6 should elect him to. For that silly reason alone I will be passing on him.

  • Is it any wonder many ratepayers do not know what a School Trustee is? First you announced an “All Candidates” Meeting, excluding Trustees, Catholic and Public. And now, this op-Ed. I put up 78 signs, Re-Elect Jane Michael, HCDSB Trustee, Wards 3 & 6, and saw ONE sign for Jim Curran in Ward 6 over 11 hours in a 2- day period. Slanted???