EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

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March 12, 2013

Candidates moved along due to traffic impact

DERRY— For the last six years, Janet Fairbanks has held campaign signs outside the town transfer station. On Saturday, she and three other candidates were told to move away from the station.

“I had never heard of anyone being asked to vacate town land,” said Fairbanks, who is running for town clerk.

The candidates and a couple of supporters posed a traffic concern, police Chief Edward Garone said.

“Due to the snow conditions, the sign holders did not have a place to park their cars and they were in the roadway,” Garone said. “It caused traffic to be backed up onto Fordway Extension.”

Garone said police received a complaint at 10:25 Saturday morning from a transfer station employee. Responding officers talked to the candidates and asked them to move to another part of town, where they wouldn’t disrupt traffic, he said.

“No reason was provided to us for our removal,” Fairbanks said. “We were simply told to go stand on a sidewalk somewhere else.”

Garone said Fairbanks acknowledged the traffic issue.

Town Council candidate Mark Osborne said he had been campaigning in that area for the last month without any problems.

“The officers said it was town property and we had to leave,” he said. “Traffic was never cited.”

Garone said the issue wasn’t where they were standing.

“They’re allowed to stand there if they want, but they weren’t allowed to obstruct the traffic,” he said. “There are no town ordinances that prohibit where you can stand with your campaign signs.”

Osborne acknowledged he could understand see why traffic could have been a concern.

“Some people were pulling over to talk to the candidates,” he said. “Their cars were parked in a way where people had to drive around.”

School Board candidate Brenda Willis and Town Council candidate Tom Cardon were also campaigning there on Saturday, according to Fairbanks.

Osborne said he was surprised by the size of the police response.

“I wasn’t surprised that an officer showed up, I was surprised they needed three officers,” Osborne said. “It wasn’t a rally. We weren’t being disorderly or unruly.”

Garone said the conversation with the candidates was polite and they moved after being asked. The traffic issue was immediately resolved after the candidates moved, Garone said.

No citations were issued.

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