Signs OK to plant in election season

ALAMOSA — Signaling the election season is in full swing, candidate signs are popping up all over town.

Recognizing this seasonal need for an exception to its sign ordinance, the Alamosa city council approved an ordinance amendment allowing election signs in public rights of way between May 1 and July 5 and September 1 and November 15. The city had already amended its sign ordinance to allow election signs before the General Election between September 1 and November 15, but the amended ordinance permits such signs before the Primary Election as well.

“This change allows for that to happen,” explained City Attorney Erich Schwiesow during the June 6th meeting when the amendment was approved. He said the amended ordinance permits limited placement of election signs in the rights of way during the election season. This is commonly between sidewalks and streets.

The ordinance amendment passed 5-1 with Councilman Charles Griego voting against it and Councilman Michael Carson absent/excused.

Griego said it seemed that every time there was an election, this issue came up. He said candidates should be allowed to express freedom of speech as the democracy allows. He said city rules seemed to be stricter than in the past and hindered people from going out and participating in the democracy. He indicated the city should not be limiting this type of freedom of speech.

“It’s crazy,” he said.

City Manager Heather Brooks said this amendment would permit signs in the rights of way for a longer time period, which actually expands the former restrictions.

Other split votes during the June 6th meeting regarded appointments to the city recreation advisory board. Five residents applied for the three open positions on the recreation board. Councilors voted on their top choices by ballot, with the ultimate winners being Martin Diaz, Brian Puccerella and Rusty Johnson. The first two votes resulted in ties with the final tie broken through weighting the choices. Other applicants to the board were Mark Pittman and Elizabeth Sumner.

The council made other appointments to boards and committees where there were no choices necessary between applicants: Don Thompson reappointed and Andrea Spencer newly appointed to the Historic Preservation Advisory Committee, which still has an opening; Dawn Krebs reappointed to the library board, which still has an opening; no one applying for the personnel board, which has an open position; David Mize reappointed to the planning commission to represent Ward 4; and Megan Dudley appointed to the tree board.