Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Mayoral Politics and Sign Wars

Looks like the information I received and posted on Saturday turned out to be correct. I mentioned that "a little birdie told me" that one of the mayoral candidates would drop out of the race on Tuesday January 17. Tuesday night I attended the Mayoral Forum at the Fraternal Order of Police on Airport Rd. It was put on by the City Police and Fire Unions and primarily focused on public safety issues. It was there that we found that candidate Jim Romero was missing and we soon learned he had dropped out of the race. The rest seem to be into the race for the long haul.

Also in in one of my last posts I mentioned campaign signs and the story of how I met some good friends. Campaign signs are the biggest source of frustration when running a political campaign. Many times the push to get a lot of signs out creates sign wars. These escalate into a push to put a sign near anyplace your opponent has one, or to outdo your opponents in the numbers of signs. For those who do not have name recognition signs can be an inexpensive way to get that name recognition. Media ads, newspapers, radio, TV, etc. are very, very expensive. One typical newspaper ad, which runs just one day, costs three to five hundred dollars and more.

I felt signs were an important part of my strategy during my second campaign for sheriff in 2002. I remember at one democratic rally in Pojoaque then candidate for governor Bill Richardson got up to speak right after I gave my speech. He looked over at his sign manager for the Santa Fe County area and proclaimed to the crowd, I want to know why this guy has more signs in Santa Fe County than I do! It was at that point that I knew we had been effective in getting our signs out.

As I mentioned earlier signs can also be a huge frustration. Signs are routinely thrown down, blown down, run over, vandalized and mysteriously disappear. Candidates and their supporters begin to blame the other candidates and their supporters for the missing and damaged signs. After two campaigns and now being in the midst of my third I can say that most of the time its just the elements (wind, rain, etc) or people not related to the other candidates damaging or throwing down signs. The story I related in my earlier blog where kids were caught tearing down my signs is proof of that.

Sometimes people give you permission and then change their mind and take them down. And sometimes the City or County officials take them down when they are inadvertently or purposely placed on public right of way. I remember arguing with city officials over where the public right of way started and where private property lines were located on Rodeo and Zia roads which have large pieces of land between the sidewalks and the homes. The city discarded many of my signs before we agreed where we could place the signs. At a cost of $50 to $500 a piece you can see why candidates can get so upset over signs. So my little bit of advice for rookies to politics and sign wars:

1. Smile politely and replace the sign if disappears.

2. Do a good job of securing them because without fail a big wind will come
and take many signs away if don't.

3. When your supporters complain that other candidates people are taking
down or damaging your signs explain to them that these things happen and
its usually not your opponents. If you don't suppress their anger they could
get caught taking down opponents signs and that would really look bad on

4. Signs don't vote! Even I found myself forgetting this when caught up in the
heat of the race.

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