- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 5, 2015

D.C. political campaigns leave a heck of a paper trail — especially when it comes to campaign signs.

Stapled to nearly every telephone pole along every major thoroughfare in the city, the signs droop and wilt in the days following an election regardless of whether the candidates they herald won or lost — becoming eyesores in a matter of weeks.

It’s why the District issues tickets to campaigns that fail to remove signs from public areas within 30 days after an election. Only a handful of fines were issued in the wake of the city’s last election.

The District’s Department of Public Works wrote 11 tickets to seven political campaigns in the months following the Nov. 4 general election, according to DPW spokeswoman Linda Grant.

At $150 each, the tickets could quickly add up if a campaign team simply gave up and went home after Election Day. But no campaign received more than two tickets this time around, and candidates who did receive tickets said they tried to remove all their signs but likely just lost track of a few.

Candidates whose campaigns received two tickets each include David Catania, independent candidate for mayor; Edward “Smitty” Smith, Democratic candidate for city attorney general; Natale Lino Stracuzzi, Statehood Green candidate for delegate to the House of Representatives; and Eugene Puryear, Statehood Green candidate for an at-large D.C. Council seat.


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Ben Young, former spokesman for Mr. Catania’s unsuccessful campaign, said he hadn’t been made aware of any tickets since the campaign officially closed in January, but he added that the campaign team made a concerted effort to remove all signs.

“We took down all the signs that we were aware of over several days,” Mr. Young said. “You have lots of volunteers putting up signs all over and you try to get them all down.”

Mr. Smith, who was unsuccessful in his bid for attorney general, said he aware his campaign had been ticketed but it had not actually received one.

“I’ve heard about it, but my campaign mailbox closed so I think it bounced back,” Mr. Smith said. “I’m trying to track it down.”

Others who received one ticket each are Bruce Majors, Libertarian candidate for mayor; Kris Hammond, Republican candidate for an at-large council seat; and Carol Schwartz, independent candidate for mayor.

Ms. Grant, the DPW spokeswoman, said sanitation enforcement officers issue the tickets either after the department receives a complaint about a sign or if officers observe the sign themselves.

D.C. Board of Elections data show that 63 candidates ran for 15 offices on the November ballot, which included an initiative on marijuana legalization.

With all that competition, Mr. Hammond said he was surprised to learn more candidates weren’t ticketed, noting that on his way to pay the $150 fine he saw several other candidates’ campaign signs that were still tacked to street posts.

“I passed four campaign signs on my way to pay the fine and five campaign signs on my way home,” he said.

Mr. Hammond said he didn’t intentionally leave any signs up but lamented that small campaigns may be at a disadvantage when it comes to removing all the signs in a timely manner because of a lack of resources.

“My campaign did everything in it’s power, with limited resources, limited staff, to take down all the signs,” he said.

Even as the last of the old campaign signs come down, new ones are taking their place. Elections for two D.C. Council seats are being held in April, and there’s still plenty of unclaimed space on the city’s telephone poles.

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