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Campaign signs in state rights-of-way violate law

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Southport man complains to party officials

By Staff Brunswick Beacon

State law prohibits any advertising signs in public rights-of-way, but that doesn’t always stop eager politicians or their supporters from placing “vote for …” signs there during election season.

According to state statutes, “It shall be unlawful for any person, firm or corporation to erect or place any advertising or other sign, except regulation traffic and warning signs approved by the Department of Transportation, on any highway or the right of way thereon or so as to overhang the right of way.”

Ed Funderburke of Southport says he is worried about the safety hazards the signs pose and contacted N.C. DOT about signs he observed that were in violation the law.

He also contacted Brunswick County Democrat and Republican Party officials asking them to encourage the candidates to abide by the law.

“The placement of political ‘vote-for-me’ signs within the right-of way along our streets and highways has become a serious safety issue for motorists,” he wrote in an e-mail to party officials. “This seemingly ‘minor’ violation of the law does not seem to be an issue for your candidates.”

Funderburke said after he contacted DOT about signs at the intersection of N.C. 87 and N.C. 133, DOT employees removed the signs.

“However, this intersection is once again becoming ‘littered’ with your candidates’ gibberish,” he wrote. “I am very concerned that candidates for public office have such little regard for the law and their constituents’ safety.”

Funderburke asked party officials to encourage the candidates “to abide by the laws that they want to have a part in making and presiding over.”

Brunswick County Republican Party Chairman Frank Iler said he answered Funderburke’s e-mail, telling him the party sends out guidelines to candidates encouraging them to follow state, county, town and property owners association rules.

“We encourage them to put them in only legal places,” Iler said. “Each candidate can take our guidelines or not. Some of them do what they did in the past without knowing the law has changed. Some may do their own thing not knowing the rules.”

Democratic Party Chairman Vernon Ward could not be reached for comment.

According to Scott Abbott of the N.C. DOT communications office, if someone from DOT spots illegally placed signs or is contacted about them, they immediately remove them.

DOT workers usually keep the signs in the back of the local maintenance office and contact the candidate about picking them up. If no one comes to get the signs within about 30 days, they are destroyed, Abbott said.