The Utah State Legislature has set August 13, 2013 as the date for primary municipal elections. This is 30 days earlier than previous years.
As a result, Utah voters can expect an additional month of campaigning by a large field of municipal candidates. More than 100 have filed in Davis County alone, which I think is exciting. In fact, I am one of those candidates. Nevertheless, there is a drawback to such a robust campaign season. It is a phenomenon called Placard Proliferation.
It starts when one candidate places a campaign sign on the corner of a busy intersection. Within a few minutes, other candidates attempt to neutralize the impact of that sign by placing one, two, or three of their own signs in the same spot. The net result is a haphazard collection of bright, yet largely unenlightening, signs packed onto the most prominent locations in town.
As unsightly as these signs become through a long campaign season, I’m not calling for the end of Placard Proliferation. Political signage is protected by nothing less than the U.S. Constitution. As with all protected speech, however, political signs place the burden of responsible usage on the speaker.
So here is my pledge for responsible sign usage that I will observe as I place placards around Bountiful:
1) I will not engage in one-up-manship on high visibility locations. Rather, I will place my signs only on the private residences and businesses of the citizens who support me. Voters can then draw their own conclusions about what the endorsements of those people say about my candidacy.
2) I will not post any yard or window signs until one month before the primary election. I am confident Bountiful voters can come to remember my name in just 30 days.
3) I will not rely excessively on political placards. I will also use print, face-to-face discussion, and social media to engage voters. Not only does this allow for more in-depth conversation than simple placards, it allows voters to agree, question, share, or even delete the message.
Is there a risk in adopting these self-imposed campaign standards? Perhaps, but only if voters base their decisions strictly on who has the most visible posters. I have more confidence than that in Bountiful voters and I am willing to take the risk to prove it. Will voters respond to this effort to clean up our community? We'll see on Aug 13. Will other candidates show the same confidence in their constituents? That is entirely up to them.
John Pitt,Candidate for Bountiful City Council