AUBURN — Political signs in the public way are just fine, according to most councilors.

“Perhaps we’ll change our minds after Nov. 7, when we see what our city really looks like,” said Councilor Tizz Crowley.

Crowley championed a change to city rules that would keep the signs off  city median and other property during elections, treating them as an eyesore. Crowley made her presentation during Monday’s workshop meeting.

“But beyond the appearance and the public comment, there’s a safety issue,” Crowley said. “Distracted driving is a problem, in particular, as they stop and gawk. But I also want to reduce the enforcement issue.”

Auburn allows the signs on public and private land for 30 days before an election and seven days after. Signs can begin going up on public land this weekend, according to Auburn’s rules.

City Manager Clinton Deschene said staff does very little to enforce the rules, relying on complaints from the public before investigating problems.

They contact the candidate or campaign headquarters when they find a problem.

“We ask to be removed, and they generally comply,” Deschene said. “If we remove them, we have to store them. They may be on public property, but they are private property.”

Crowley suggested last month that the city adopt an ordinance similar to Brunswick’s. That town’s zoning rules specifically ban political signs on public property. It allows them to be placed on private property 60 days before an election.

Farmington and Alfred last week agreed to delay enforcing ordinances that place time limits on political signs posted on private property but will continue to limit signs placed on some public properties — including schools, parks and cemeteries.

Auburn councilors said the existing rules were fine with them, putting an end to the issue before it ever came to a council vote.

“I said this last time, I’m not in favor of this change for a couple of reasons,” Councilor Mary Lafontaine said. “But mostly, I think we need it for the unknown candidates. They don’t have a better way of getting their name out there. They don’t have the same access as more well-known candidates.”

Lewiston’s City Councilors are scheduled to consider easing their sign ordinances at their meeting Tuesday night. Lewiston currently requires political signs be removed once an election is over. The proposed change notes that there is no time limit for political signs placed on private property.

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