EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 30, 2012

Many political signs become airborne menaces

Campaigns, candidates press for removal

By Dustin Luca dluca@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Next to downed power lines and falling trees, they were one of the most dangerous things whipping around in Sandy’s powerful winds: Political signs.

It gives new meaning to the term “attack ads.”

“Depending on the kind of sign you have, it’s either a wood stake or steel bar,” said Congressman Frank Guinta, R-N.H. “Either one of those, upended, could potentially injure somebody.”

Alerts put out by campaign offices and candidates yesterday asked supporters to pack up the signs as winds from Hurricane Sandy picked up speed.

Reasons for packing up front-yard support were numerous yesterday, as the storm approached New Jersey. With winds in the Boston area often hitting 60 mph, Republican supporters at the Derry Victory Office on West Broadway took down people-sized signs with names like Downing, Rausch and Guinta on them.

Barry Finegold, the Democratic incumbent in Massachusetts’ 2nd Essex Senate district, said there was another reason beyond safety for taking the signs down — they could blow onto a neighbor’s property.

“A lot of them are in the ground, and they’re sturdy and not very heavy, but they can be more of a nuisance than a danger,” Finegold said. “They’re not inexpensive. We’d love people to try to put them in the house and put them back out after the storm.”

Colin Gately, press secretary for the New Hampshire Democratic Party, said the party’s primary concern moving through the storm was “making sure that folks are safe.”

“We’re telling folks, ‘If you can get out there, take down your lawn signs,’” Gately said. “Whether it be a deck chair or anything like that that’s not firmly secured down, things can take off in high winds.”

The storm is having limited effects on the election season, with the general election a week away. Margaret Toomey, city clerk in Haverhill, said election-related efforts in the city haven’t been hampered much by the storm.

“We had to make sure that the ballots are moved up onto our tables so they aren’t on the floor, that our equipment doesn’t get damaged by water,” she said. “We’re on top of everything we can be on top of at this moment, but things are still coming in.”

Along a stretch of Route 110 in Haverhill, from the Water Treatment plant at Kenoza Lake and east to just past Biggart’s Ice-Cream stand, campaign signs were toppled, mangled and in some cases shredded by the storm. Some signs made of cardboard and stapled to wood frames were torn to pieces, leaving empty frames. Many smaller campaign signs supported by thin metal rods pushed into the ground were left leaning over and in some cases were twisted and bent.

While voter registration ahead of the election has ended in both New Hampshire and Massachusetts and absentee voting will take place right up to election

day, some campaign-related events are being postponed or canceled.

That was the case for Guinta, who was slated to debate Democratic opponent Carol Shea-Porter in a televised debate last night.

“My events got canceled, mostly by the groups that were hosting the events, due to the weather,” Guinta said. “It made sense. The reality is you have to take precautionary measures to make it through the storm.”

The storm is expected to impact the region through the end of the week. With the damaging winds only expected to last through today, many were looking to mid-week before campaign events continued.

“Right now, the only thing we’re concerned about here is making sure that folks are safe,” Gately said. “It’s just important for folks to exercise an abundance of caution.”