Dem leader wants moratorium on all election signs; GOP chief calls it grandstanding

Along with ripe pumpkins, corn mazes and heavy traffic, another sure sign of autumn in Southold is the springing up of election campaign signs on roadsides from Laurel to Orient.

But if the town’s Democratic chairman has his way, there’ll be nary a sign to be seen in September.

Party leader Art Tillman is calling for a moratorium on all political signs for the duration of the election season. That would cover both billboard-type signs and the much more common lawn signs that are only a couple of feet across.

“It’s getting to the point of being ridiculous,” the chairman said of the growing number of signs displayed, especially during town election years, like this one.

“They’re ugly,” said Mr. Tillman. “People are getting sick of this.”

It’s difficult to get a handle on how many campaign signs are put up each year. In addition to those put up by the party, individual candidates obtain and distribute their own,

Mr. Tillman said he’s put up about 30 signs in the past.

“We always ask for permission and I know where to put them,” he said. “I know all the friendly people on the west end of town.”

While he believes the idea has merit, town Republican leader Denis Noncarrow suggested his Democratic counterpart is more concerned with political gamesmanship than he is with eliminating eyesores.

“He’s grandstanding with the paper rather than sitting down and talking about it,” said Mr. Noncarrow.

Since all but one town office on the November ballot is held by a Republican incumbent, and there was little doubt about who’d be running, the signs were ordered weeks ago, Mr. Noncarrow said.

“Party members always ask for signs,” he added. “That’s how they show their involvement. I don’t think we’d take that away from them.”

He added that in the past he and former Democratic chair Larry Tuthill would meet and come to an agreement on questions such as when the signs could first appear.

“We were always talking about things and if something was bothering somebody we’d have lunch and come to an agreement,” Mr. Noncarrow said. “Going to the paper and putting on a show is not productive.”

Mr. Tillman argues that since the Democrats have no incumbents running this year, the GOP has nothing to lose by forgoing the signs.

“It really works to our disadvantage,” he said.

He added that he emailed the GOP leader over a week ago and received no response.

“I don’t know what there is to negotiate,” said Mr. Tillman. “You either will or will not agree to a sign moratorium. I have a strong feeling most of the people of Southold agree with us and see political signs as smoething that does not enhance the appearance of our town.”

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