Editorial: Times of the signs
Reactions and reviews among townsfolk are mixed on the autumnal blossoming of political signs along Ridgefield’s roadsides.
Some people find them a visually offensive intrusion into the town’s woodsy look. Politically involved folks seem to love them — they put signs out in their own yards, and also ask permission to put them on others’ property. And signs sometimes spring up in highly visible roadside spots that seem to be part of the public right-of-way.
And at least a few folks who aren’t active partisans enjoy seeing the names of politicians popping up, and trying to discern from the mixed tea leaves of the town’s sign wars what the ideological mood of the moment is.
There seemed to be more signs out this year — perhaps because Ridgefield had a contested race for first selectman for the first time in years, a new independent Inland Wetlands Board on the ballot, and a lot of turnover on a couple of longstanding boards such as the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Board of Education.
It doesn’t much matter what people think. “Temporary political signs” are listed as unregulated in the town zoning code — which has lots to say about the size, location and number of commercial signs that businesses may display. That owes to the Planning and Zoning Commission realization, years ago, that the signs with candidates’ names amount to “political speech” and are — rightly — granted strong protection under the First Amendment to the Constitution.
Still, the assumption is that the signs are indeed temporary. They go up during the fall campaign season, usually starting in early September, and come down after the election.
In Ridgefield, both political parties — as well as individual property owners who choose to support candidates — are pretty good about keeping the signs to election season and taking them down after the votes have been cast. A few stragglers may sometimes be seen, left up too long.
Kept to the time of turning leaves, political signs with all those names — proclaiming political affiliations, family friendships, and simple support — are, well, kind of fun.