Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

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January 24, 2014

Childs challenges political sign ordinance in city

JACKSONVILLE — According to Cherokee County court-at-law candidate Dan Childs, the Jacksonville political sign ordinance is against state law.

Childs said Texas regulations say a candidate may place signs in a city 90 days prior to election day and have 10 days after the election to remove signs.

"The state statute is very clear. The city has no right to regulate the ordinance on political signs. The state law controls the placement (of political signs)."

Under the city ordinance in Jacksonville, candidates are not allowed to place political signs until 30 days prior to election day, and they have 72 hours to remove them after the election.

"The local government code part of state law says a city cannot prohibit signs," City Attorney Joe Angle said. "We are not prohibiting anything. We are simply and reasonably restricting time, manner and place."

Angle said wording in the state rules say prior to "election."

"The term election means the election day, not anything else," Angle said.

In past years, Childs said city officials allowed candidates to place signs in the city 30 days before early voting began not wait until 30 days before election day.

"I wasn't going to challenge it. I can live with 30 days before voting," Childs said. "But I am not going to put up with this. This is ridiculous."

City Manager Mo Raissi said it is not that the city has changed it's interpretation of the ordinance, but rather a possible misinterpretation by Childs.

Raissi said the Texas local government code says a city cannot restrict political signs on private property, require a permit or fee for a sign to be placed, or impose a charge for removal of the sign that is greater than the charge of removal of other regulated signs.

"And we are not doing those things," Raissi said.

The code also does not prohibit the city from regulating a political sign that is more than 36-feet wide by 8-feet high, illuminating or has any moving elements.

The city ordinance also complies with state law on the placement of signs in right-of-ways.

"This is not aimed at any one candidate. As far as I know, other candidates have respected it (the ordinance,)" Angle added.

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