Campaign signs need to be put in their place

Meanwhile, back at the ranch: John Fielder's photo is up in the governor's office.
hannah thomas

Last week, 79-year-old Victor Anaya was questioned by police after a northwest Denver resident said he'd seen Anaya pulling up campaign signs. And, in fact, when police looked inside Anaya's van, which they'd stopped near the 1900 block of Lowell, they found dozens of signs that had been on private property. At first Anaya said he thought the election was over and that someone had paid him $20 to take the signs. But he later told police that he just doesn't like the signs, says Denver Police Department spokesman Sonny Jackson. "He said he didn't like the way they looked all over the place."

Can you blame him?

Although any election attracts a clutter of causes and candidates on front lawns, the sign-posting for mayoral and city council elections always seems more intense. Even worse — and illegal — is when gung-ho volunteers or canny pranksters plant signs up and down the medians of busy streets, in empty lots or in front of vacant buildings. "Denver prohibits the placement of signs in the public right-of-way," says Julius Zsako, the city's community and planning development spokesman. According to Denver Revised Municipal Code section 59-537(9), election signs are limited to private property, and then only with the owner's consent; election signs cannot be placed on the public right-of-way (which includes roadways, median strips, utility poles and boxes, and the lawn area in front of houses between curbs and sidewalks).

"In the twenty years I've been here, though, this is the best campaign I've seen in terms of placement," says Zsako, adding that most politicians understand the rules. "All in all, the folks running the campaigns have been good about not littering the median strips, which, fifteen to twenty years ago, was common."

Even so, last week dozens of signs — Ortega! Linkhart! Hancock! — were stuck in places they shouldn't have been. And more than twenty signs for mayoral write-in Marcus Giavanni appeared on medians along Colorado Boulevard and Monaco Parkway — placed there without his knowledge, the candidate insists. "You can't fight corruption if you are corrupt yourself," explains Giavanni, who calls himself a "disenfranchised voter" and says he's running in an effort to root out moneyed special interests and corrupt politics. Giavanni had petitioned to be on the ballot, but the Denver Clerk and Recorder's office rejected 176 of his 427 signatures, leaving him 124 short; Giavanni filed a complaint but has since withdrawn it.

"People from other campaigns don't want me," says Giavanni, adding that he is aware of the rules about campaign signs. "If they can get rid of those signs, they will."

The Giavanni signs were gone by this past Monday, as were many others that had been on public rights-of-way before the weekend. But Zsako doesn't know where they went. Although the city can remove illegally posted signs, his department hasn't conducted any sort of sweeps. "If our inspectors see something when they are out in a district, they'll call the campaign offices, but we had no special initiatives this weekend," he says. "People in the community pick up and call the campaign offices, as well. Residents appreciate the median strips and want to keep them nice. They are a real treasure in Denver."

Scene and herd: Former governor Bill Ritter has gone fishin' — and so has the painting of a fisherman that used to grace the governor's office in the State Capitol. It's just been replaced by a massive reproduction of a John Fielder photo of the Last Dollar Ranch near Ridgway, which Governor John Hickenlooper had been fishing for when he contacted the photographer shortly after his election and asked if Fielder had anything that might spruce up the place (Patricia Calhoun's "Photo Finish," March 3). Because the photo was so big, though, the wall had to be shored up in order to support it.

Sponsor Content


All-access pass to top stories, events and offers around town.

Sign Up >

No Thanks!

Remind Me Later >