Be wary of when, where you place political signs

By HASKEL BURNS,

Area officials are reminding residents that it’s perfectly fine – and even encouraged – to display yard signs for political candidates in the upcoming elections, so long as those signs are put up during the proper time and in the correct location.

Per rules of a Hattiesburg city ordinance that limits signs to 60 days before an election, June 7 is the first day signs can be displayed in the city limits for partisan candidates who will be involved in the Aug. 6 primary election. For independent candidates who will participate only in the Nov. 5 general election, that date is pushed back to Sept. 6.

“Just driving around town, you can kind of see some (signs) in some yards, and we just wanted to make sure that everyone is aware of the ordinance and that signs are placed in the appropriate time frame,” said Samantha McCain, chief communication officer for Hattiesburg.

Officials are asking any residents who are currently displaying signs for the primary and general election to take them down within the next week, and then re-display them during the correct time frame. After that, the city’s code enforcement officers will take up any of those signs that are left out and hold them at the appropriate office.

However, signs for the March 12 special election for Mississippi House of Representatives District 101 are currently permitted, as that date is within the 60-day guideline for political signs.

“So if anybody has signs out those for candidates in the special election that’s happening March 12, then they’re okay,” McCain said.

Although there is no ordinance regarding a time frame for political signs in Forrest County, residents should still avoid putting signs within county right-of-ways. Forrest County Road Manager Mike Slade said residents also should call 811 before they dig holes for larger signs.

“There were two young guys putting one of those big signs up, and I said, ‘You know that’s $1,800 a minute,’” Slade said of the fiber optic line the men were about to cut. “They were on a state right-of-way, and they’re not even supposed to be putting it there.

“If you (dig) below six inches, you’re supposed to call (811). So take them off the right-of-way, because we’re going to get them, and I’m going to cut the edge off them (so we can tell that we’ve seen them once). If we get them a second time, you’re never going to see them again.”

Lamar County also does not have an ordinance stating a particular time frame for signs, but as elsewhere, residents should be mindful of where they place any signage.

“They can’t be in the public right-of-way; they have to be on private property,” Lamar County Administrator Jody Waits said. “You can’t have anything in the right-of-way of the road without a permit, and no one ever asked for a permit to put a sign out. So if you were to put it along, say, Highway 589 in that right-of-way, and (the Mississippi Department of Transportation) comes along mowing or cleaning up, they’re likely to take them down.”