About 30 years ago, the much-loved local Justice of the Peace Jack Findlay found himself on the wrong side of the law with the City of Cottonwood.
It was election season. One of his political opponents had filed a complaint with the city that Findley had put up a campaign sign near the old Chamber of Commerce building that violated the size requirements of Cottonwood’s sign code.
After reviewing the city code, Findlay announced that he planned to plead guilty to the offense “and throw myself on the mercy” of Cottonwood Magistrate Charles Graham.
Judge Findley ended up paying a fine. He ultimately was re-elected in a landslide vote.
Short of that one instance, local, state and federal political aspirants have pretty much had their way with political signage during election seasons in the Verde Valley. If there is a place for a sign in the path of traffic, you can bet some politician will claim that peace of real estate as their own.
One of the great reliefs for a lot of folks once an election season is over is that we don’t have to look at all those annoying signs any more.
That’s why close attention should be given to what’s happening in Camp Verde right now. Currently under consideration in Camp Verde is a revision to the town’s sign code that would define the areas where such political signs can be placed.
The new proposed code would disallow political signs within any municipal-designated commercial tourism zone, which in Camp Verde’s case would be SR 260 between I-17 and Finnie Flat Road, as well as Finnie Flat Road and Main Street.
In other words, some of the prime-choice locations for politicians to litter the roadside with their political signs.
As it moves forward, this one certainly could get touchy in Camp Verde. The ultimate decision makers on this policy are the same people who want prime real estate for their signs during a campaign season.
Which ultimately means there needs to be a meeting of the minds between the elected officials who hold authority over such policies and the voters who hold authority over who gets elected in Camp Verde. Local residents need to weigh in on this debate and make their voices clearly heard.
And while they fight it out over this issue in Camp Verde, the rest of the Verde Valley should pay close attention.
Gaining a little control over how much is too much when it comes to political signage and the degree to which we want our roadsides to remain uncluttered could become a sign of the times here in the Verde Valley.