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CON: Choosing political sides can be bad for business

By Melissa Crowe
Sept. 30, 2012 at 4:30 a.m.
Updated Oct. 1, 2012 at 5:01 a.m.

Political signs in front of The Corral restaurant on Houston Highway in Victoria. Do political signs in front of local businesses give politicians an avenue to get their names out there or do they alienate potential customers?


When it comes to local elections, some Victoria residents say they want businesses to stay out of the political spectrum.

Virginia Peña, 39, of Victoria, said she makes an effort to keep her political beliefs separate from her business life at Gigi's Boutique.

"Businesses shouldn't try to push their views on anybody," she said. "Because I believe one thing, are my customers supposed to do the same?"

Choosing sides politically can alienate existing or potential customers, Peña said.

"I want everybody to shop at my store," she said, adding that the best way to be politically active is to do it at the ballot box.

Rufus Diggs, 34, of Victoria, agreed.

"If you feel that strongly about something, go vote," Diggs said.

Otherwise, he prefers people and businesses keep their political views private.

Danny Garcia, the Democratic Party candidate for Precinct 1 Victoria County Commissioner, said although campaign signs at businesses benefit candidates and the public, endorsing one over another can be disadvantageous to that business.

The signs help candidates "build a network" that allows them to be associated with people who can then promote the election. Once a business owner allows a candidate to post a sign, "then they should open the doors to all candidates," Garcia said.

Businesses should be cautious about endorsing one candidate over another, he said.

"If a business wants to endorse a candidate, I don't see that it's beneficial to a business to do that," Garcia said. "They should support the candidates who are running out there. Whoever they're voting for is entirely up to them."

Sandra McKenzie, the Democratic candidate for the 24th Judicial District judge, called campaign signs "a necessary evil."

"Media outlets are so expensive and our district is so large it's hard to communicate with people to let them know there's an election going on," McKenzie said.

She said she would prefer another outlet.

Many of her signs can be seen along Victoria's major thoroughfares like Navarro and Rio Grande streets.

"We have signs to let our supporters know we're out there, but frankly, I'm like Lady Byrd Johnson: I prefer wildflowers," she said.

On the other hand, she said businesses should be able to post signs so long as it is not a traffic safety issue.

"I believe in free speech," she said. "If a business wants to put a sign out, they should have the right to put that sign out."

While some Victoria businesses vary on the scale of supporting particular candidates or none at all, others make an effort to stay neutral during election seasons.

Rory Motley, who manages a Discount Tire on North Navarro Street, said they post the signs because those candidates "are our customers."

"There's no rhyme or reason other than they asked," Motley said. "Sometimes we get pretty littered up."

However, he said for the presidential election, they will remain neutral and post signs for President Barack Obama and presidential candidate Mitt Romney.

"I'll make sure there will be one of each out there," he said.

He said he doesn't want to chance losing customers over an election.



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