Political signs disappearing in East Vail
Ryan Summerlin October 31, 2012
VAIL, Colorado – Political signs are everywhere in Eagle County – in resident’s yards, in roundabouts, on private property along Interstate 70 – but one place they soon won’t be is on town of Vail-owned public property.
The town has been getting complaints that candidate signs on a public planter in East Vail have been removed and replaced with competitor’s political signs.
An East Vail resident, who would only provide his first name Ron, called the town Wednesday morning after several days of back and forth with the signs. He said he’s put a presidential campaign sign for President Obama on the planter and has later found out that someone has removed it and replaced it with a Mitt Romney sign.
Assistant Town Manager Pam Brandmeyer said complaints of signs being removed have come “from both sides of the aisle,” though.
Ron called the Vail Police Department’s code enforcement division and said he thought no signs should be allowed on the property at all if everybody can’t play fair.
Sgt. Annette Dopplick said the Vail Police Department’s stance is to protect freedom of speech for everyone and to do what’s fair. She said the town doesn’t enforce its sign ordinance for campaign signs since they’re temporary. Plus, she said, enforcement would be difficult.
“We understand at this time of year that people want to get their messages out,” Dopplick said. “We’ve taken more of a hands-off approach for everyone.”
That being said, Dopplick added that it’s not acceptable to remove other people’s signs on town of Vail public property.
“If someone sees that going on, contact the police department and we’d be happy to investigate,” Dopplick said.
Brandmeyer said the town’s public works department doesn’t have the time to visit every piece of public property in town to remove political signs, but the town will remove signs when they receive complaints about specific areas.
“Generally we have not had a problem with political signs, but since we now have had a complaint about signs being removed, we will have to remove them,” Brandmeyer said.
It’s a good thing, Ron said, because he was about to remove all of the signs himself.
“It’s just getting so poisonous,” Ron said. “People are not being civil. It sends a message that ‘I’m allowed to put my sign here but you’re not.’ Everyone has a voice, so I think we all forfeit our rights (by not playing fair).”
Brandmeyer said the political signs don’t typically cause problems, and folks can still obviously place the signs on private property.
“If this is what it’s come to, then this part of the American way won’t be happening on town of Vail public property,” Brandmeyer said. “… I think it’s unfortunate.”
Dopplick said this isn’t the first election season in which the town has fielded complaints about folks removing political signs. She can remember times when she’ll drive into work and the signs in the roundabout – which is owned by the Colorado Department of Transportation, not the town of Vail – appear to have been moved around since the previous day.
Assistant Managing Editor Lauren Glendenning can be reached at 970-748-2983 or firstname.lastname@example.org.