In the wake of the 2010 general election, the Nicholasville City Commission discussed limitations on campaign signs for future elections at its meeting Monday.
Commissioner Johnny Collier said during the 2010 election season, he had several people talk to him about the large number of signs throughout the city.
“(City Clerk) Roberta (Warren) has some correspondence from the KLC (Kentucky League of Cities), and I think there are some things that we can do,” Collier said. “Back in the ‘90s, we passed an ordinance at one time that you couldn’t put them up until 30 days before the election and they had to be down 10 days after the election, and they couldn’t be no bigger than 4 feet by 4 feet in a residential area.”
After that ordinance was put into place, it was later repealed because a candidate challenged it, and Collier said that commission wasn’t interested in a lawsuit filed against it over campaign signs.
Collier said the reason for so many signs this year was the number of candidates running for the many different offices.
The commission turned to City Attorney Bill Arvin for advice on the matter.
“I think the council for the KLC hit the nail on the head,” Arvin said. “You’ve got the freedom of speech and the First Amendment; it’s a right.”
But Arvin said the city is within its rights of establishing a time of when signs can be put out and how large they can be.
Nicholasville Mayor Russ Meyer agreed that the city should do something about the timing and the size of signs.
“Whatever we do, we want to put something into place that will hold up and we can back up,” he said. “It wasn’t just putting them out so early; it was also the size of the signs that were in town. We want people to get their message out, but we also want to have things look respectable.”
After a few more minutes of discussion, Warren told the commission that she would e-mail them sign ordinances from across the state for their review.
No action was taken, and Meyer said the issue would be put on the next agenda for more discussion.
The campaign signs conversation led into a talk on the length of terms for the city commissioners.
“The two things people wanted to talk about were the signs and why are you all running again,” Commissioner Doug Blackford said. “Every two years we’re wearing the community out.”
Collier said he spoke to state Rep. Bob Damron on this issue.
“The only way it can be changed is by changing the form of government to a council form,” Collier said.
Arvin said the General Assembly has the power to change two-year commission terms to four-year terms if it sees fit.
“It would be a whole lot easier on everybody,” Collier said. “I just don’t mean the people sitting here, but the people in the community as well.”
Damron said it would require the General Assembly to act.
“It does require a statutory change approved by the legislature, because their terms are outlined as two-year terms,” he said. “I’ve got staff looking at and talking with the league of cities on possible ways of doing it. The direction I will probably lean in supporting would be that the General Assembly would give the cities an option of doing an ordinance to put a vote to the people of allowing four-year terms versus two-year terms.”