As a first-time candidate running for council, when I filed my nomination papers in May and received my candidate’s package from the City Clerk’s staff, I took the time to read through it thoroughly to ensure that I didn’t break any applicable election rules and by-laws.
Two of these which I paid special attention to were the sign by-laws for Welland and the Niagara Region. Within the city, signs can only be posted within forty-five days of election day (Friday, September 9 for the 2022 election) and must be taken down three days after election day. The exception to this rule is that a sign can be posted earlier in the official campaign office for a candidate as soon as they have filed their nomination papers and had them accepted by the City Clerk’s office.
As I had formally declared our personal residence to be my campaign office, I checked with the City Clerk and confirmed that it was acceptable to post a sign in my front window in the days leading up to September 9.
A few days have passed since September 9, and I’ve noticed that some candidates have not been following the rules as closely as they should. The City’s by-law clearly states that signs can only be erected on personal property, only with the permission of the property owner, and cannot be place on city property.
However, just within the Welland downtown area, I’ve seen multiple instances of signs on derelict buildings, boarded-up construction sites and other non-personal properties. And I’m sure that if I were to do a more comprehensive drive around the city, I’d find other violations of just this one by-law.
I doubt very much that the candidates involved are placing these signs themselves, but it is unfortunate that their campaign staff are not being more diligent in their adherence to the by-laws.
You might argue that signs by themselves are insufficient to sway voters’ decisions, but repeated exposure to a candidate’s advertising places them front of mind and for the voters who don’t take the time to learn about each candidate’s platform, short-term name recognition might be sufficient to win at the ballot box.