Signing Off On The ’19 Election

As election season heats up, Planning & Zoning Commission member Chip Stephens sent this email to all political parties in town: Democrats, Republicans, Save Westport Now and the Coalition for Westport.

“Let’s see if it works,” he says hopefully.

As P & Z enforcement officers, Al Gratrix and I have worked hard to keep illegal signs at bay. We try our best to keep legal signs, like campaign signs, in proper and legal places, and hope to keep campaign signs away from restricted areas.

Here are the simple rules we hope all will respect:

  • Please do not place where signs will block traffic views
  • Do not place within parks or beaches
  • Schools are restricted, but some do not enforce; placement is at your risk
  • Do not place on state or interstate roads (during the past few years, the state has removed these signs weekly)
  • Try not to trash the public-sponsored gardens
  • Try to limit 1 sign per intersection
  • Finally, try to practice civil signage: Don’t place your sign directly on another’s sign. Instead, offset your sign, or move it a few feet away.

NOTE : P & Z will not remove campaign signs. Please don’t call the office; it was not us.

Every year, a few people who don’t like signs or are just bad apples take signs down

Look around where a missing sign was. Often you will find it lying nearby. If state crews removed the sign, you may find it in the sand shed in the state truck property across from Sherwood Diner. (You are allowed to reclaim your signs if they are there.)

Please use common sense, as if it was your property. It is your town, so please try to follow the rules.

Thanks, and good luck to all,

Meanwhile, alert “06880” reader — and Westport voter — Matthew Murray writes:

So who’s Joe?

(Photo/Matthew Murray)

I can’t tell whether he’s a Republican, Democrat or from Mars. It has me intrigued, but I’m not going to vote for him.

He is also quite prolific with his sign placement — though every corner is a bit much.

17 responses to “Signing Off On The ’19 Election

  1. Michelle Benner

    I agree, the “plan on joe” signs are cryptic. Maybe he thought it was a clever way to announce he’s running for P&Z? Will there be a follow up sign?

  2. I, also, wondered who “Joe” was. Intrigued, I went to the official list of candidates for RTM and other local offices on the November ballot. Turns out there is only one candidate on the ballot this year named “Joe” or “Joseph”: Joseph Strickland Jr.

    Mr. Strickland is a candidate for P&Z on the Coalition for Westport line. So I guess those are his signs. And apparently, like Cher, Bono and Madonna he wants to be known by just his one name.

    Good luck with that Mr. Strickland. Here is hoping people don’t end up misidentifying your “Joe” signs with less reputable Joe’s like Shoeless Joe Jackson, Sen. Joseph McCarthy or Joseph Stalin.

  3. Who is Mmatthew Murray?

    And who is John F. Suggs? I think he may be an RTM member from my district. Too bad I’ve never heard from him.

  4. Dear Michael, the good news is I am not running for office (nor have I. “I will not accept if nominated and will not serve if elected.” [to quote American Civil War General William Tecumseh Sherman] ) . I post comments here and there and sometimes Dan publishes my photos.

    I am impressed with the irony of “Joe” might be running for P&Z, and many of his signs are in full violation of the P&Z and State rules/regulations.

    This was posted by Dan two years ago from the Westport Police Department:

    “General Guidelines for ALL Temporary Signs
    • Town property includes traffic islands and road rights of way.
    • The town may not approve, nor is it responsible for, any signs erected on State of Connecticut property. It is not advisable to place signs on State of Connecticut property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, nor on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway) as the State may remove them.
    • No sign may be placed on any school property without the prior permission of the Superintendent’s Office.
    • No sign may be placed within the interior of Compo Beach or Longshore Club Park.
    • No sign may be placed on Town Hall property.
    • No sign may be placed on trees or utility poles.
    • No sign may interfere with traffic visibility.
    • Signs on private property require property owner approval. Signs on private property shall not extend beyond the property line or into the Town right-of-way and is suggested they be removed within two days after the publicized event or election.
    Temporary Signs for Political Purposes

    Political signs are considered an expression of free speech and are allowed on public property. The General Guidelines noted above apply to temporary signs for political purposes. ”

    Wouldn’t it be a great idea for all the political parties to follow these rules:

    “Temporary Signs for Advertising Charitable Events
    The placement and locations of temporary signs on town property for the purpose of advertising a charitable event requires review and approval by the Westport Police Chief, Director of Planning and Zoning, and Director of Parks & Recreation, or their designated representatives. Qualifying organizations (i.e. local non-profits) may send the a request, including proposed locations, for the placement of temporary signs to: Selectman’s Office, Westport Town Hall, 110 Myrtle Avenue, Westport, CT 06880 or
    The following conditions will apply to charitable events:
    • A maximum of 15 signs are allowed for each such event. This includes directional signs.
    • The signs may be erected not more than two weeks before the event and must be removed within two days after the publicized event.
    • The size of the sign cannot exceed 2 feet by 3 feet.
    • Non-compliance may result in the removal of signs. ”

    So shall we base our voting on the issues or the amount of yard signs placed in town?

    • I think everyone agrees that the number of political signs gets out of hand here in Westport. it’s been that way for a number of election cycles. It’s a small cost for democracy and free speech but can without question become annoying.

      The number of signs put up for Joe Strickland to date has been small. It appears to be many because Joe is one of the first to get out there. In reality there are only a few signs and you can actually count them. His opponents must be nervous since some signs have already been swiped from legitimate areas. Once others get their campaigns going we will be seeing many more candidate signs. The good news is that most campaigns are responsible and signs disappear the day after election day.

      It was felt that in order to gain recognition for someone who is running for elective office for the first time in Westport, a teaser sign might help him gain additional recognition. And obviously it has worked. Thanks to all who have found the sign provocative. But the really good news is that Joe is an extraordinarily qualified candidate. He will bring to the P&Z far greater qualifications than anyone now serving or running. Please make every effort to read about his background in the local media and in his campaign literature.

      • Dear Michael,
        I’ll assume you drive different roads than I. The photo that I took this morning was at the intersection of Hillspoint and Greens Farms. The sign in the picture is on the southeast corner. On the island-triangle on the northeast corner are two signs (please notice in the original post, Chip Stevens asked folks not to overload the public gardens. So much for that request. On the northwest corner, is another “Joe” yard sign. And just to make sure no one missed it, on the southwest corner is sign number five. That is state property, part of I-95, just like the sign in my picture.
        If I may ask, how can we support a candidate how abuses and violates the laws/rules/regulates before he even gets in office. With all due respect, why cannot a person running for the commission regulating do this? This is crazy. There are many “Joe” signs on the Post Road in direct violation of State of Connecticut laws. There is no “grace period” or suspension of these rules leading up to a campaign cycle.

        Of course, if both parties talked together, they could hold off on the signage until at least a month prior not two. But that would require common sense. What was I thinking?

        Joe wasn’t the first out of the gate with signs. Other candidates started putting them up a day or two after Labor Day. To be honest, it’s pretty shameful.

        Two final points: The signs are expensive and do not change anyone’s mind or views. May I recommend both parties stop planting signs (and the costs) and put the money into a charity or deserving organization? Sure, the party/candidates could promote that and everyone gets a win-win. The charity gets money, and the candidate does some actual good. I know, crazy talk.

        Lastly the robo calls/campaign calling. Because of scammers, everyone ignores, blocks, or hangs up. The phone call chains have been rendered moot. The campaigns have been sold a bill of goods on this saying “everyone likes these calls.” Horsefeathers. It is truly a waste of money, and does not change a vote. It is like lemmings to the sea. “Oh, I’ll follow what the others are doing.” Pretzel logic. It is madness for any campaign to do this. It annoys voters and offends many to the point of “why bother?”

        FYI, I’ve voted in EVERY election since being of age to do so, including the local ones. And I didn’t make my choices based on the bazillion of signs on every corner. Capisce?

        • matt, you ask how can we support a candidate who abuses the law? Who is the president of the USA?

          • Touché. But I did not vote for Trump nor do I support him.

          • Richard it’s been over 2 years. Stop crying over that historical election. Get used to it because he will win again. Keep voting Democrats Connecticut because they are doing such a great job for you. lol 😂

            • Robert Stalling

              Just wait Jeff, soon we will see a picture of the trees losing their leaves and somehow, someone will blame Trump for it…
              This is my predicted future climate scenario based on past observations, and as we know, predictions should always be considered as fact.

            • hi Jeff,Mr Stalling. Your team is Trump, the KKK, David Duke, white supremacists and obstruction. My team is the anti defamation league, climate change, globalwarming, clean earth, healthy school lunches, education , and comprehensive immigration with humane treatment of all people. Lastly get those AR 15 out of citizens hands and have senssible careful background checks. Im proud to be a democrat. How republican mothers can support a r 15 use and other such guns being purchased on a routine basis through all kinds of loopholes is beyond common sense. Republicans are owned by fossil fuel and guns. Private equity has divested billions out of fossil fuels. Good luck to all. I wish you good judgement

              • You forgot to mention Russia and collusion…
                Oh, and you forgot to mention that we hate the elderly, children, animals (particularly puppies)… and that we are racists, bigots, Anti Semites, xenophobes and deplorables who hate the poor and cling to religion.
                Of course, we do like our money, Wall street and big business, which is why wealthy towns such as Westport tend to be majority Republican, correct?
                I’m sure its also the reason that Republican controlled states such as Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Illinois are ranked at the bottom for fiscal solvency.
                Evil, evil Republicans…
                By the way, I’m an Independent.

  5. Very clever Joe! And people are talking! Was that your intention?

  6. I’m impressed – and depressed – that a caring citizen would say that he’s not going to vote for someone whose identity is not yet known to him, without regard for qualifications or experience. I counsel patience Mr. Murray, and suggest that you refrain from making up your mind until you know what and whom you are talking about.

    • Dear Larry,
      I think you misunderstood me. I vote strictly on the quantity of yard signs. Issues have nothing to do with who I vote for.

  7. Dear Mr. Murray. So it would appear. To each his own

    • Dear Larry,
      I guess you did not grasp my sarcasm. Please accept my apologies for an attempt at humor. I’ll stick with my day job.