Portsmouth candidates agree to no signs during campaign

Carrying on a tradition nearly a decade old, the candidates running to represent Portsmouth District in the upcoming municipal election have agreed they will not use election signs during their campaigns.

The last time election signs were used by candidates in Portsmouth District was during the 2006 municipal election, said current candidate Bridget Doherty, who approached her four fellow Portsmouth District candidates to suggest they carry on the tradition – one that outgoing Portsmouth Councillor Liz Schell had informed the new candidates of. The other four candidates – Chris Ball, Alexandra de Hass, David Dossett and Carly Francke – eagerly agreed that there was no need to use signs during this election.

We caught up with the candidates (apart from de Haas, who is currently overseas) to ask them why they felt it was better to refrain for using election signs during their campaigns. Here’s what they had to say:

Chris Ball

Campaign signs are expensive, ugly, and terrible for the environment. A plastic lawn sign spends one month as an eyesore at the side of the road and then a thousand years in a landfill. Also, if you look at campaign expense reports from previous elections, lawn signs are by far the biggest campaign expense, often making up about half the budget. It’s also a lot of time for you and your volunteers to put them up and make sure you get them all taken down again after election day.

Candidates use election signs because it gives them an advantage: name recognition. If you are a less-well-known candidate running against a well-known incumbent, it’s an important way to level the playing field a bit. But for this election in Portsmouth District, our councillor has retired; we’re all on a level playing field, so it made sense for us all to agree not to use signs. I for one would rather use my time and resources to connect with constituents instead of putting up signs.

Bridget Doherty

Election signs create unnecessary waste and are not the way to win a local election. My team couldn’t find any that were not plastic.

Residents want to get to know the candidates, signs offer very little in way of connecting the candidate with the people.

They also don’t help us get to know the district, the people we are to represent, and the neighbourhoods we will be responsible for.  I believe we need to have conversations; we need opportunities for dialogue. Election signs offer none of that.

David Dossett

I immediately said yes because [election signs] tend to clutter things up, and I think most people at this level (municipal) would rather not have election signs. The important thing is to go door to door and reach people, and to go to meetings and reach people, in person. I don’t really know that election signs really influence a lot of voters.

It’s also wasteful. What do you do with them after? You’ve got to go pick them all up, and they end up going in landfills.

And the regulations are really kind of onerous because you’re not allowed to put them out before a certain date, and then they have to be all gathered up by a certain date… It’s just not worth it.

I’d rather spend my time talking to people, and finding out what’s important to them than putting my signs everywhere.

Carly Francke

The sign issue, I would say, would be because the environment is littered. There’s litter everywhere… and especially with the winds, and the weather is unpredictable now… As you can tell, our drains are full of garbage, that’s why the roads are backing up [with water]! (Francke was referring to the flooding that occurred during the intense rainfall on Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018).

That was my number one reason. Number two is: with social media, I don’t see what signs are going to do. That and using the newspaper should be efficient.

It is also a huge expense, so let’s use the money somewhere else.

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