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PRO/CON| Should businesses get involved in politics?

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

Here is a sample of political signs in front of The Corral restaurant on Houston Highway in Victoria.

Here's your sign

•  It is illegal to place any sign on or within the right-of-way. This includes posting signs on trees, telephone poles, traffic signs and other objects on the right-of-way.

• Campaign signs along Texas roads can be placed on private property with the owner's permission. Signs must be made of lightweight material and be no larger than 50 square feet.

•  Campaign signs may be posted as early as 90 days before an election and must be removed within 10 days after the election.

• If you've placed your sign in the right-of-way or it is posing a traffic hazard, Texas Department of Transportation will remove it without notice. All costs associated with sign removal will be paid by the sign owner.

Source: Texas Department of Transportation

TO READ WHY SOME BUSINESSES ALLOW POLITICAL SIGNS ON THEIR PROPERTY, CLICKHERE.

TO READ WHY SOME BUSINESSES DO NOT ALLOW POLITICAL SIGNS ON THEIR PROPERTY, CLICKHERE.

Campaign season is in full bloom in Victoria.

While private residences and bumpers are fair-game for political signs, those candidate endorsements are popping up daily along Navarro Street and Houston Highway, largely in front of businesses.

Election Administrator George Matthews said municipal sign ordinances do not apply to political advertising under the Local Government Code 216.903, and business owners are free to post signs, so long as they comply with the code.

"If a city is more restrictive, the Local Government Code applies," Matthews said. "It's been on the books for nine years."

According to the code, a municipal charter provision or ordinance regulating signs may not, for a political sign on private property with the consent of the property owner, prohibit the sign from being placed; require a permit or impose a fee for the sign to be placed; restrict the size of the sign; or provide for a charge for the removal of a political sign that is greater than the charge for removal of other signs regulated by ordinance.

However, the prohibition against placing signs in the right-of-way still applies, he said.

"The problem candidates typically have is No. 1: They don't get permission from a landowner," Matthews said.

Without that permission, the candidate could face a criminal trespassing charge, Matthews said.

While some business owners carefully consider each candidate before planting a sign on their property, others say they want to stay impartial and post for any candidate who asks.

Either way, the question remains: Should local business owners use their establishments to endorse political candidates? If so, what impact does that have on existing and potential clientele?

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