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Monday, September 15, 2014

POLITICAL STREET SIGNS

BRYCE ON POLITICS

- Eyesores or useful tools for candidates?

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As we get closer to election day in November, political street signs are popping up everywhere. The signs began to appear early in the summer as a prelude to primary season. Now there is a morass of signs extending from one end of the county to the other. Although there are congressional races in the offing, most signs are related to municipal and county races, such as county commissioners, school boards, mayoral, and judges.

Since most people do not take the time to study the issues, these street signs are incredibly important to cultivate the image of the candidates. The color of the signs and fonts are just as important as the message printed on them. In my area, there doesn't appear to be any signs in black and white. Most have a color theme, either a patriotic red, white and blue, or a simple two color sign to cut down on printing expenses. I have seen green and white to represent Eco-friendly themes, but they are somewhat difficult to read. Orange and blue is another popular combination, but somehow it reminds me of the Denver Broncos.

The two hottest colors, that which attracts the eye, are yellow and red, yet these are avoided for some reason. Maybe they do not want to be too loud.

Democrats like blue signs and Republicans lean to red. The American flag is a common icon to reflect the patriotism of the candidate. For judges, it is common to see icons such as a gavel or a scale of justice. Law enforcement candidates tend to use handcuffs, fire department candidates use fire helmets, and school board candidates use a simple school logo. I wonder what icon they would use for dog catcher?

Personally, I like to see pictures of the candidates on the signs but this is typically avoided as name recognition is of paramount importance. After all, you only see names on a ballot, not photos of the candidates.

Because a street sign is typically limited in terms of space, it has to say just three things:

1. The candidate's name, particularly the last name.
2. The office he/she is running for.
3. The party he/she represents.

Optional: a catchy slogan or motto is useful for conveying a message, or possibly an important endorsement, e.g., "FOP supports Chief So-and-so." Or perhaps a web address is shown.

Where the political signs lose their effectiveness is when they are either bunched together in a single location or one right after another on a street median. At this point, drivers see nothing but a blur and the signs are indistinguishable.

Signs frequently get vandalized, even in the best of neighborhoods. In some developments, including my own, such signs are banned from display in order to maintain harmony. Inevitably, some nut job will put out a sign in spite of the deed restrictions, thereby causing the neighbors to complain and retaliate by displaying signs of competing candidates. Aside from this, when signs are deliberately vandalized or stolen, this is a crime, plain and simple. I may intensely dislike a candidate or issue, but I respect his/her first amendment right to display it. However, when the election is over, regardless of who won or lost, please take down the eyesores. I do not want to see them at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

A few years ago I was visiting some friends in Ohio just prior to the elections there. As I was driving around I came upon a sign saying "Dinkelacker for Judge." With all due respect to the judge, I burst out laughing when I read the name for the first time. Since his first name was omitted from the sign, I pondered what it might be; could it be Dicky Dinkelacker? Donny Dinkelacker? Or maybe it was a woman, Denise Dinkelacker? Debbie Dinkelacker? I went on and on with the combinations which seemed endless. To this day, I still do not know his first name, but why should I? His last name has been indelibly impressed on my mind. The fact I remember it is indicative of how important a last name can be. I know I won't be forgetting it anytime soon.

It is a shame we have to stoop to using street signs. In a perfect world the voters would meet and listen to the candidates and study the issues before forming an opinion, but as we all know, this seldom happens, which is why we have to rely on street signs that create eyesores, and names like Dinkelacker.

How about Denzel Dinkelacker? Or Darnell Dinkelacker? Daphne? Dizzy? Doreen? Dilbert?

Keep the Faith!

Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.

Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at timb001@phmainstreet.com

For Tim's columns, see:   timbryce.com

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Copyright © 2014 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.

NEXT UP:  WHAT ARE YOUR RIGHTS (OR IS IT WRONGS?) - The misconceptions Americans have related to our personal rights.

  - What the "separation of church and state" really means.

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