Historic City News readers are well aware of the upcoming Primary Election in St Johns County on August 30, 2016; and if they aren’t, it’s not because the candidates whose races will be decided, for all intents and purposes, who are plastering the highways with billboards, mini-billboards, and oversized yard signs asking for their votes.
Campaign budgets are up over past years, some candidates now raking in $1000.00 maximum donations compared to past years when $500.00 was the most any single contributor could donate to an individual candidate per election.
In St Johns County, for example, over $1 million raised in cash contributions for local races like County Commissioner, Clerk of Court, Mayor of St Augustine, Anastasia Mosquito Control Board, and, Sheriff.
Almost all of that money is spent on one form of advertising or another with a major portion spent to see the candidates name and message, and sometimes mugshot, larger than life on every kind of poster, banner, or outdoor sign conceivable. Both Florida Statute and local codes and ordinances regulate the placement of temporary signs and the lengths of time that they can legally be displayed.
With more supporters, came more donations. With higher budgets came more signs. With more signs came more supporters who expect to see their favorite candidate’s signs across the landscape; somehow equating the number of signs to the number of votes on election night.
With many years of experience in managing political campaigns and budgets for candidate advertising and publicity, Historic City News editor Michel Gold says he believes signs don’t get you elected, they just make your supporters feel good.
“Vicky Oakes, the St Johns County Supervisor of Elections, has assured me that on Election night, she is going to count ballots, not signs,” Gold joked. “That said, I believe that misplaced campaign signs that litter the highway, can cost you much needed votes.”
One Historic City News reader sent us several examples of political signs from Jerry Cameron (candidate for County Commission Seat 3), Henry Dean (candidate for County Commission Seat 5), and St Johns County Sheriff, David B. Shoar, which are not properly placed on private property with permission from the property owner, as required.
“Every candidate is provided with a printed copy of the sign ordinances in St Johns County and municipalities, and that information is also on our website, www.votesjc.com,” Oakes told local reporters.
The County Code Enforcement department, who instructs solid waste to collect the misplaced signs and drop them off at the county landfill, tells us that the rule of thumb on highway signs is for them to be installed to the outside of sidewalks and utility poles furthest away from the roadway, including swales that are mowed by county employees.
Signs may be harder to see, but according to the guidelines, the property owner is supposed to give permission for the candidate to install their sign inside their perimeter fence line.
Links to more information:
- Florida Department of Transportation – Political Campaign Signs
- Florida Department of Transportation – Right of Way Guidelines
- Florida Statutes- Usage and Removal of Signs
- Political Campaign Sign Info for All Candidates
- St. Johns County and Ponte Vedra Zoning Districts – Sign Ordinance
- City of St. Augustine – Guidelines for Political Signs