Sign of the Times
Latest sheriff’s race shootout targets alleged billboard campaigning violation.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Sheriff candidates Fred Garcia and Scott Miller are taking a technical dig against incumbent Sheriff Mike Kanalakis, alleging his campaign violated a county ordinance that prohibits political billboards from going up earlier than 60 days before the June 8 election.
Under county law, candidates are allowed to post signs in unincorporated areas two months prior to an election, but state regulations allow signs three months ahead of time. As we go to press, it’s a week until signs can go up under county law. Kanalakis campaign consultant Brandon Gesicki says the signs along Highway 68 and Highway 1 follow state rules since they’re next to highways.
“We got them where they are supposed to be,” says Gesicki, whose company, Mainstream GOP Consulting, also works for Superintendent Nancy Kotowski. (Her signs are up as well.) “We follow the rules.” Kanalakis’ blue-and-white signs are on display in Sand City and Salinas, but those cities have 90-day windows as well, Gesicki says.
Miller and Garcia say Kanalakis’ sign on Laguna Seca Golf Ranch, which reportedly has been defaced to depict Kanalakis as the devil, skirts the rules. Both candidates say they’re waiting until around April 8 before busting up signs.
“The chief law enforcement officer of the county should respect existing ordinance,” Miller says.
Bill Dunn, county code enforcement branch chief, says he hasn’t received any official complaints about premature campaign signs, but his office has received inquiries. Even if somebody did complain, it’s close enough to the election that it’s a moot point, Dunn says.
“By the time we opened the case and started approaching the thing, the time limit for putting the signs up will have probably come,” he says, adding that candidates routinely put up signs before they’re allowed during election season. “They jump the gun every time.”
Several angry signs sprouted up next to the Red Barn recently in response to the county’s crackdown on code violations at the landmark’s swap meet. Dunn argues that the billboards are covered under the First Amendment.