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Most people think that elections are too expensive and often too divisive, especially on a local level. I agree. This belief leads me to make a suggestion that minimizes divisions within our community, respects our neighborhoods, and reduces the cost of elections.

LET’S ELIMINATE YARD SIGNS! And house signs too. Here is why…

• Yard signs are often the spark that divides neighbors – sometimes neighbors who live in the same house.

• They are often put up by absentee landlords who cannot vote in Somerville. This is particularly troubling when the tenants, who do vote in Somerville, support another candidate.

• Yard signs contribute to urban visual blight – I think we have enough street signs already!

• Some signs stay up for months after the election, especially those on houses owned by absentee landlords.

• They are expensive – thereby increasing the cost of running for office and discouraging more people from seeking office.

• Yard signs are often the subject of vandalism either by misguided supporters or someone looking to make the opposing candidate look bad (the media has reported that this has already happened during this election in other parts of Somerville).  This leads to more divisiveness and diminishes the reputation of the city as a welcoming community.

I have sent my proposal to all candidates in Ward 7 and I hope we can all agree to it.  Maybe we can get the citywide candidates to follow our lead in Ward 7, then maybe across the entire city.

For my part, I will refrain from putting up any yard or house signs while I wait for other Ward 7 candidates to consider this proposal.  If all other candidates refuse this proposal, I will reconsider my approach. I want to make Somerville a better place, but I have an obligation to my supporters to compete on a level playing field.

We all have friends who want to show their support, but there are other, better ways to do it – stickers on cars and have our supporters contact their friends and family. After all, campaigns are supposed to be about ideas and bringing people together – not dividing neighbors.

I want to bring neighbors together. I want to reduce visual blight in Somerville. I want to reduce the cost of campaigning so that more people may run for office. I encourage all candidates to join me in this effort to raise campaigning in Somerville to a higher level and to remove one more excuse to divide our community.

Joseph Capuano

Candidate for Ward 7 Alderman


17 Responses to “Letter to the Editor: For an even better Somerville, let’s eliminate yard signs”

  1. Winter Hill Barney says:

    *eye roll*

  2. Mike says:

    Lets just start with asking certain candidates not to start putting theirs up in march.

  3. Joan F says:

    I think this is an excellent idea. I liked the idea when then-Mayor Capuano pushed to eliminate them citywide too. His son is following in his mold. Yard signs are ugly and they divide neighbors. Drive down any street in Everett right now and tell me if you like the look of all their yard signs. Talk to the residents of Wards 3 or 5 and tell me if they appreciate the sign battle. Signs don’t vote!

  4. gregtowne says:

    My 1st thought was this is silly but the more I think about it the more I like it. Maybe it’s still silly and a small gesture but I’m on board. Still don’t think I’ll vote for a capuano (won’t vote for Ballytane either) but good for him!

    I’m still writing in Bob Trane!

  5. Frankly says:

    What a horrible idea. Welcome to democracy.

    This sounds like something that would be done in a suburban gated community, not a thriving city. I think all the yard signs look great! Shows people are engaged and actually care. It’s a good excuse to ask your neighbor why they support a particular candidate – and possibly learn something from it. They are also a way for candidates with grassroots support who may not already have a political machine – ahem ahem – to get more visibility.

    Isn’t the whole point of elections to highlight the differences between candidates? Differences don’t have to be divisive, they can just be different.

  6. Ron Newman says:

    Sorry, I can’t agree with this. The yard signs, among other things, remind people that there is a local election coming up — regardless of who you are supporting.

    The city should, however, strictly enforce a rule about taking your signs down once you’ve won or lost the election.

  7. Joan F says:

    Frankly, doesn’t your candidate have her own political machines, the PDS and SCC? Didn’t PDS endorse your candidate twice, even though she is on their board? And even though her campaign manager is the head of PDS? Really above board, that crew.

    If you like a candidate so much that you put up their yard sign, I don’t think you’re going to have a high minded discussion with your neighbor who strongly supports another candidate. That’s a pleasant idea but I don’t think it’s realistic.

  8. 5 says:

    To Joan F: I live in ward 5 and don’t mind the signs at all.

  9. A.Moore says:

    I don’t base my vote on yard signs. Meaningless to me. But if people want to display them that’s their choice.

  10. Boston Kate says:

    “urban visual blight” – you can’t be serious. I don’t need to be told when it’s time to take down a sign. Enough with the enforcement of this and that and anything else that people think we need to be made to do. Signs don’t attract rodents. Signs don’t lower property values. Candidates signs do not divide people. I’d bet that no one has ever been discouraged from running for office, due to the cost of signs. I’m really riled up about this; in fact, I’m puttin’ up more signs. I may even ‘Tyvek’ the whole house with my candidate’s name. Hey, J-Cap – that’s a ridiculous idea, and it isn’t even your own. Signs, signs everywhere a sign……….

  11. Mingus Mapps says:

    I find Joseph Capuano’s anti-yard sign proposal to be profoundly offensive and un-American.

    I am not a lawyer, but I believe I have a constitutional right to express my political opinions via a sign in my bedroom window or yard.

    I’m stunned that a candidate for public office would hold a different view.

    Mr. Capuano, I urge you retract this dangerous and dumb proposal.

  12. martin says:

    I think we should ban Political signs across the city, they look horrible and makes the city look bad. The best effective way of running for local office is do the door knocking, answer your phone and do contingents work for the residents.

  13. Joan F says:

    Boston Kate and Mingus Mapps, I suppose you have no problem with the billboards that used to litter Somerville that Mayor Brune thankfully got rid of? Or the bumper stickers of campaigns past that remain on bridges and light poles all over the city? Because someone was expressing their opinion, just didn’t clean up after themselves and made the city look like a dump. If it wasn’t for Mayor Brune, this city wouldn’t have started to clean itself up and attract new people, maybe like yourselves.

    Maybe signs don’t divide neighbors like they used to here but believe me they use to. I remember campaigns stealing each others signs. When I lived on Lower Broadway in the 80s, I had five different signs stolen or vandalized in three different elections. Even this year, this paper reported on the ward 5 aldermen race, where one candidate coerced business owners to take down their opponent’s signs.

    Mapps – unAmerican? Maybe if there was a law saying no signs. This is not a law, just a proposal. A good one, I think. Did you feel that same way about the peoples pledge taken in the senate race for outside money?

  14. A. Moore says:

    Yaers back if I recall right some cities did not alow signs. Trying to remember if Somerville was one of them or it was CAnbridge. SO long ago I can’t remember. Or are my old age drugs catching up with me.

  15. Adam says:

    You want to see some urban blight,…..drive to Lynn. They are overrun with political signs. It’s all the candidates have to offer. It’s refreshing to come to Somerville and see just a few signs here and there. It’s not at all an urban bight. Let people express their political views how they want. I wish I lived in Ward 7 so I could vote against Capuano.

  16. MarketMan says:

    political signs = blight ?! really?

  17. Boston Kate says:

    Speaking of signs that should be taken down, check out the Dent Plant dental office on the corner of Broadway and Grant St. (280, I think). It has advertising posters in 3-4 places, attached to the front of the building. I think THAT’s what should be enforced, not temporary candidate signs.

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