Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Political Pollution

We, the citizens of Queen Anne's County, have the good fortune to live in a beautiful place, with vistas that seem stolen from postcards and where the wildlife can seem almost ubiquitous. But it seems that every four years, when local elections approach, dozens of those hoping to be elected lose all sense of scale and reason, and litter our county with countless plastic signs. It seems that 2014 has been the worst yet, with signs starting to pop up when voters were still thinking of what Christmas gifts to return. We should not have to be subject to low-grade roadside politicking for ten straight months.

So early on in my campaign for the Board of Education, I made a pledge to myself, never to put a sign in a public place, never to put a sign anywhere I had not secured explicit permission, never to put my signs in a place clustered with many other signs. In short, my promise was only to put yard signs in the yards of my supporters. I never intended to print a large highway sign. Never thought much of putting dozens of signs up at the early voting locations, or at the polling places on Election Day.

Looking back, I am glad that I made (and kept) this pledge. Because the county has been turned into a trash  heap of political signs. Gas stations, off-ramps, business parks, and most notably, the Kramer Center in Centreville and the Kent Island Library, both of which have been turned into embarrassing displays of political pollution. Any individual candidate gets lost in the crowd of literally hundreds of signs.

Now some local politicians and political hopefuls have heard the outcries of the voters who are dismayed with what they've seen our county become, and they are suggesting discretion when it comes to placing political signs. That is really great of them, and I would suggest that it is about time.

The voters deserve to know that some candidates, including this one, opted not to plaster political signs on every grassy surface. I find political signs to be the equivalent of shouting into a bullhorn. Effective? Perhaps. Annoying? Almost certainly. Much like you, I've never made a single voting decision based on who had the most signs. And while I am a candidate, I am a voter and a citizen first, and I felt the same way about all those signs on the roadside and at the polling place as you do, which compelled me to keep my signs where they belong.

Typical politicians think that political signs are a key part of a campaign, they are just something that has to be done in order to win. Now that the public reaction has soured, those candidates will agree to remove some of those signs. Sometimes leadership requires you to do something before everyone else thinks of it, I am proud of the fact you won't see a single Steven Kline for Board of Education sign on the side of a highway, at a gas station,  on public property, or at a polling place. 

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