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Campaign-sign season has arrived, but one party to wait

Clement placards going up in medians in preparation for Nov. 7 vote

More than a month remains before the Arlington County Democratic Committee embarks on its placement of campaign signage on median strips in the lead-up to the Nov. 7 election. But an independent candidate has beaten Democrats to the punch.

Campaign signage for Audrey Clement, making her latest run for County Board, has begun sprouting in medians across the community.

A county-government ordinance limits campaign-sign placement on medians to “31 consecutive days before an election or party nominating caucus called by a governmental body (including all primaries) or a political party.” Which, for the Nov. 7 election, would be Saturday, Oct. 7, and which would make such early placement both impolite and illegal.

But there’s a loophole: Arlington zoning officials have used a somewhat creative interpretation of the ordinance’s verbiage to divine that what it really means is 31 days before the beginning of early voting – which this year begins Sept. 22.

Clement told the GazetteLeader that she doesn’t like that interpretation, preferring just a 31-day window before Election Day, but since it is what it is, she’s getting her signs up.

Arlington Democrats, however, are waiting until a month before the actual date of the election. At the organization’s Sept. 6 meeting, it was announced that the median-sign effort, under the direction of major-domo Carol Burnett, would take place Oct. 6-8. The expansive driveway of party activist Mary Detweiler will be used as a staging area.

The county’s ordinance limits signage to two per candidate per median, and requires signage to be removed within five days of an election.

It only applies to local-government right-of-way. Signage in theory is prohibition on medians of state-owned roadways, including some of the major thoroughfares in Arlington. Sometimes that prohibition is followed, sometimes not, and rarely is it enforced except by peer pressure.

There are few limits to campaign signage placed on private property in Arlington, assuming the property owner agrees to the placement.