By Katie Fallon
Candidates running for the vacant District 1 City Council seat may have only recently qualified for the Nov. 6 special election, but a campaign problem has already been reported, and to the body on which the candidates seek a seat.
At least one candidate has had his election signs removed for apparently violating city code.
The special, nonpartisan election for the District 1 seat was called after former Councilman Dave Greenspan resigned his post on Aug. 27 to move to Ohio for another job. Four candidates have qualified to fill his seat. (See story below and on page 9.)
At the Oct. 2 regular council meeting, candidate Mark Thomas reported that more than 50 of his campaign signs had been confiscated that day. He said he only found out about the signs being removed after receiving a call from the police department.
Thomas told the council he wanted clarification on the city’s sign ordinance because he received two different definitions of the law from separate city staff members.
“I received a call from the Sandy Springs [Police Department],” Thomas said. “They advised me that several of my campaign signs were in violation of the ordinance based on their placement. I then called the city and received two different explanations. One was that the signs had to be ten and a half feet back from the curb. Planning and zoning then told me it was ten feet from the right-of-way, which now makes it 20 and a half feet.”
All but one of the candidates were in attendance at the meeting and while Thomas was the only one who brought the matter before the council, he did report that fellow candidate Doug MacGinnitie also had some of his campaign signs removed.
Thomas further noted selective enforcement of the law as he claimed he counted 56 signs that were also in violation of the city ordinance.
“Selective enforcement is not good, especially in an election time and we really need help,” Thomas said. “We realize we have four short weeks to communicate this election to our constituents.”
Nancy Leathers, director of Community Development, confirmed that the signs had to be 10 feet back from the right-of-way. She also said, however, that code enforcement personnel were instructed to give candidates two days to relocate their signs before confiscating them.
During the meeting, city staff could not tell Thomas the fate of his signs and whether they were still sitting in a code enforcement office, the police department or if they had been thrown away.
“I don’t know if it was our staff that took them or not,” Leathers said.