Southold GOP won’t agree to moratorium on political signs

Limit political signs? Yes.

Ban them outright? No.

That’s the response from the Southold Republican Party’s executive committee, which met Monday night to consider the Democrats’ call for a full moratorium on campaign signs in the upcoming town elections.

“It seems a bit extreme,” said GOP leader Denis Noncarrow. “But we’re always willing to talk about limits, as we’ve always done before.”

The chairman also called a full ban on signs unworkable and said there’s no way to prevent party supporters, or candidates in countywide elections, from putting up their own signs.

“I agree that it gets crazy,” said Mr. Noncarrow. “But telling everybody no signs? I don’t see how that could work.”

Last month Southold Democratic leader Art Tillman, who is running his first election since becoming chairman in the fall, suggested an all-or-nothing ban on both the larger billboard-type signs and the small lawn signs that both parties have put out in large numbers in recent years.

“They’re ugly,” he said at the time. “People are getting sick of this.”

Mr. Noncarrow said he often met with former Democratic leader Larry Tuthill to set dates before which no signs could appear, but he’s had no such contact with Mr. Tillman, whom he accused of political grandstanding.

It’s not as difficult to keep the town sign-free as Mr. Noncarrow suggests, Mr. Tillman said.

“Signs are passed out by the party,” he said. “If you don’t have them, there’s none to pass out.”

He agreed that it’s all but impossible to enforce a full ban, but added that he has no objection to posting homemade signs.

“Then you won’t see the thousands we usually see,” he said. “I think that would lead to a lot of creativity.”

The chairman said Democrats have yet to decide whether to follow a self-imposed ban on election signs.

“It’s a possibility,” Mr. Tillman said, but a decision won’t be made without first speaking with his candidates.

“Personally, I’d like to go with a unilateral sign moratorium,” he added. “I have to think the electorate is not swayed by signs.”

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