Saturday, July 12, 2014

Political Signage = Freedom, a Guest Column by W. John Williamson

Recently, Rep. David Schweikert--the guy I'm running against--
was interviewed on KJZZ, our local NPR station, and I agreed with what he

He was talking about campaign signs and how he loves to put the signs up
and participate in that aspect of a political campaign.

I, too, share Rep. Schweikert's passion for campaign signs and the whole
process of putting them up and making them an important part of one's

David Schweikert talked about how one's hands get cut by the baling wire
used to attach the signs to the support posts. Been there, suffered that.
He talked enthusiastically about going out and putting up signs at all
hours of the day and night. Been there, done that.

One thing that I get concerned about for myself is when I'm checking out
my signs at an intersection. I have to make sure I pay attention to my
driving and don't get in an accident.

Unfortunately, not everyone in our society understands the importance of
political campaign signs. They are a reflection of our First Amendment
rights, for one thing. People that want to put the kibosh on campaign
signs don't understand their significance. While some sign-grinches may
see political campaign signs as blight, they really show that we have
freedom in our country. That we have elections where people can vote and
choose their own leaders. We have choice in our country; we are not
dictated to. This doesn't happen in Myanmar, North Korea, Russia, or
China. We have something unique in our country that a lot of our citizens,
I believe, don't really appreciate.

Some people may laugh at this, but it's getting harder to be a political
candidate in our country. Political candidates are much more limited, for
one thing, about where they can stand to get their nomination petition
signatures. Some cities, such as Paradise Valley and now Fountain Hills,
do not allow political signs to be put up. Some property and business
owners, if a sign is on their property, do not have the decency to call up
the candidate to give him, or her, a chance to remove their sign, even
though a contact phone number must be on all the candidates' signs. These
arrogant individuals simply confiscate the signs and throw them away.

On the positive side, I'd like to share this story. A manager of a Bank of
America called me up about two weeks ago. Evidently, one of her customers
had told her that if all the political signs were not removed from her
bank branch's property, that customer was going to close their account and
take their business elsewhere. I told this manager, a courteous lady, that
I had put a sign on their property in the last election, and all had been
well. She told me that she has managed that branch for 19 years, and never
had this problem before. She told me she knows signs are expensive and
wanted to give me a chance to take my sign down myself so that I wouldn't
lose it. I went up within 30 minutes to the bank and took my sign down.

I commend this bank manager for her civility, but she is the exception.

There are candidates running with whom I disagree markedly on the
issues--David Schweikert and John Kavanagh, for example. But I would never
want them, or any other candidate, to have their freedom to put up signs
impinged upon. Rep. Schweikert has great signs; I commend him for it.

And what he said in the KJZZ NPR interview was great, too. Signs are
important in political campaigns, and I hope that they never disappear. I
share his enthusiasm for them. Some people and municipalities, however,
seem to want to sanitize their communities by eliminating all evidence of
healthy political life. These people do not understand American democracy,
nor are they helping it to thrive and be well.

If you would like to contribute to my campaign, please check out my
website at Click on "Make a Donation"
and, by means of safe and secure PayPal, dare to support your Democratic
candidate who believes in campaign signs as an expression of our First
Amendment rights, critical to the vitality of freedom and democracy in our

The Future Can Be Ours if we recognize and respect the importance of
political campaign signs as an indication of our freedom of choice in
America to choose our own leaders. Democracy can be, as you've no doubt
heard before, messy; and freedom is often only achieved through a tortuous
process. Some political campaign signs are tacky; some are works of art.
Political campaigns may be raucous and uncivil; or mannerly and
respectful. Yet if we show tolerance for what some may consider this
political "circus," we may in the end see that our democracy is the
stronger for it, and that indeed, because we have put up with the signs
and the sound and fury of elections, we have saved, as Rep. Schweikert
might put it, "the Republic."

Thank you for your time.


W John Williamson is the Democratic nominee for US House in AZ's 6th Congeressional District, He is also a high school English teacher and father.

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