Town lukewarm to political sign ban

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BELLOWS FALLS — The Rockingham Select Board is less than enthusiastic about a suggestion that political campaign signs be banned from town or village-owned property.

Peter Golec, chairman of the Rockingham Select Board, said Tuesday night that he guessed the political sign ban was aimed at him, since he had posted signs for his campaign for re-election to the Rockingham Select Board at the town's recycling center last month. Golec is a volunteer at the center.

"It's kind of pointed in my direction," Golec said at one point. "I'll leave it at that."

Golec said he had no idea that according to state law any political candidate has to ask town permission to post his signs — unless the town or municipality has an ordinance addressing the issue.

Golec, who was elected to a three-year seat on the Select Board last month, said he had talked to former Select Board member and town clerk Doreen Aldrich, as well as Tom MacPhee, another longtime town official, before he posted his sign at the recycling center. Neither was aware of the requirement that town permission must be granted, he said, noting that he had displayed his campaign sign three times.

Bellows Falls Village President Deborah Wright raised the issue earlier this month, and the matter is slated for a discussion during the upcoming joint boards meeting on April 30. Wright said she is concerned signs on municipal property might be viewed as an endorsement.

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But Peter Golec, as well as fellow Select Board member Stefan Golec, seemed to think political signs should be welcome on all town property. "We're getting too regulated," said Stefan Golec, calling it a "freedom of speech issue."

Select Board member Gaetano Putignano said enforcement was another consideration, since the town recycling center is actually located in the town of Westminster. The center is located on land owned by the village of Bellows Falls. Putignano said he is more interested in making sure the signs were picked up.

Town Manager Wendy Harrison researched the matter with the secretary of state's office, and she said without a local ordinance, the town's permission is required. The ordinance could be very simple, she said.

Harrison said the Bellows Falls village trustees did not have a formal proposal regarding political signs. Harrison said a simple policy of "signs are allowed" could resolve the issue.

Contact Susan Smallheer at

ssmallheer@reformer.com or at 802 254-2311, ext. 154.


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