Campaign signs beat official petitioning in Pueblo’s mayoral race
Author: Kara Mason - May 7, 2018 - Updated: May 8, 2018
It just isn’t a municipal election until the campaign signs — and related complaints— show up, and in Pueblo’s mayoral race, it’s all coming before local leaders have decided how the city’s first mayor will be chosen.
Prospective mayoral candidates in Pueblo aren’t allowed to pick up paperwork to petition on to the ballot until August, but signs have already started popping up all over town for people who think they’re cut out for the job. It’s left some questioning on social media whether local signage laws permit those signs.
A city clerk’s office representative told Colorado Politics that, like in most cities, campaign signs are treated as temporary signs. They can’t be left up for more than 15 days after an event, or in this case an election.
But how far ahead of an election are they allowed? That’s up for interpretation. The clerk’s office said that it was up for the reporter to read through the statute.
The ordinance says temporary signs shouldn’t be displayed for more than 90 days per calendar year, but is vague in what that means. There is no indication if that is consecutive days or 90 days before an event is set to take place.
The signs, which have been up for at least a few weeks, may hit that 90 day mark by the time candidates can pick up petition packets.
There is no language in either ordinance that says a candidate has to be official to put up yard signs.
Gilbert “Bo” Ortiz, Pueblo’s county clerk and a former city council member, said he sees the city rule as vague and that it could probably be argued either way in court whether these signs are up too far in advance.
County rules are a bit more precise: “The sign is not established sooner than ninety (90) days prior to the first scheduled primary, special, or general election date and is removed within twenty (20) days after the final special or general election date.”
As far as enforcement goes, Ortiz said it doesn’t seem the county has a mechanism for that, but the city’s road and bridge department collects signs that are in places they shouldn’t be.
The few candidates that have pitched signs so far include former Pueblo City Council member Lori Winner, who has built a political platform on ridding the city of blight. Her navy blue signs spot yards across the city. Like the others in the growing list of candidates, she isn’t technically considered a candidate to the city because petitions aren’t available yet.
Her constituents are the ones who wanted the signs, she told Colorado Politics, adding that if she didn’t have the support, or thought she could win this race, she wouldn’t be running.
Winner said she asked about rules regarding signage and was told by the city’s code enforcement officials that while there are rules following an election, there aren’t any prior to one.