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Editor's View: City council challengers find signs a tough sticking point

By: Don Chaddock, Telegraph Managing Editor
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There seem to be an abundance of signs lining the streets, at least for the Folsom City Council incumbents. For the challengers, many of their signs are still sitting in storage. Alexander Munoz said he has a garage full of signs and nowhere to place them. Aside from putting them in the yards of family and friends, he’s found most of the prime space is being given only to certain candidates — those already in power. City property doesn’t allow campaign signs, of course, so that leaves commercial property. Those decisions are up to the property managers, building owners or developers. Munoz said he ran into a roadblock when trying to place a sign on the fence outside some center. He claims he was told that space was only for the incumbents. He said Mike Kozlowski managed to get a sign up for about a day, before it was also removed. “If this is true, it’s really an unfair advantage,” Munoz said. “No wonder incumbents keep getting re-elected if challengers can’t place signs at prime intersections and streets. ... It’s really a good old boys club.” Jaya Badiga, another challenger, sent a letter to the city disputing the removal of her signs by city staff. She’s also run into problems with developers. “I knew (campaign signs) were the most used for elections in the past, but after ordering a 150 signs for $1,000, I have about half in my garage (since) I can’t put them anywhere,” Badiga told me. “The most visible empty spots are developers’ property. … I didn’t realize (that and) I’ve had … many signs pulled soon after putting them up.” Sue Ryan, the city’s public information officer, said the city’s rules apply to incumbents and challengers. “The city’s municipal code prohibits signs from being posted on city property or in the public right of way,” Ryan said. “Signs posted in the public right of way could pose a hazard and are not a permitted use of public property. Our code enforcement officer called the candidate as a courtesy after he removed several of her signs that were posted on city property or in the public right of way. This is the practice that the city has consistently followed for many years for incumbents and candidates for any public office.” Sounds like the challengers, including Lindsey Woodward, have an uphill battle ahead. Robocall feedback Apparently, my column last week about the use of so-called “robocalls” by Kozlowski — who is seeking a city council seat — ruffled the feathers of Folsom resident Michael Raffetto. He writes, “I don’t understand why you would be so surprised at the use of this method in local politics. Frankly you may have underestimated how far Mr. Kozlowski will go to get his message heard, especially since the Sacramento Bee and the Telegraph have already endorsed the three incumbents. What I can’t understand is why you would associate the word mudslinging with Mr. Kozlowski’s use of robocalls ... and in the first paragraph of your column! Fair and balanced journalism … I think not.” Thanks for your feedback, Michael. One thing I can say about this election cycle, at least for the city council race, is that it’s been fairly civil. There has been no mudslinging and I’d certainly never accuse any candidate of such activity. My column was referencing mudslinging in elections in general, not this particular one, and how this was the first time I’d heard of pricey robocalls being used in a local race. Basically, I’ve covered a lot in elections in two decades, and robocalls are not commonly used in races for seats on city councils or school boards. Not to be outdone, I hear the Folsom Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee, known as “Biz PAC,” has now employed the same gimmick to endorse the three incumbents — Kerri Howell, Andy Morin and Steve Miklos. Has Kozlowski started a trend? What are local elections coming to? What’s next, hiring sign wavers to stand on every corner? Don Chaddock is the managing editor of the Telegraph. He can be reached at donc@goldcountrymedia.com.