I have noticed many campaign signs for Sheriff Winters still around town. Are they allowed because he is in office or because he isn't enforcing rules?
— Barbara, via email
Campaign sign regulations are a much more tricky business than you might think. They are subject to city, county and state regulations, but no one, besides the rare concerned citizen like yourself, actively polices adherence to these regulations.
To put it short, the answer to your question is no and no. The fact that Sheriff Winters is currently in office does not exempt him from campaign regulations, and the sheriff's department is not in charge of policing sign regulations.
As that's a rather unsatisfying and unhelpful answer, however, we've dug a little deeper.
It is worth noting that Winters will be on the ballot again in November, when he faces Corey Falls in a runoff after neither man received 50 percent of the votes plus one in the primary. But that doesn't necessarily mean the signs are legal in the meantime, either. Read on:
Whether or not Winters, or any candidates for that matter, should have taken their signs down by now depends on where the signs are, whether they're on public or private property and how long the signs have been up.
Both Medford and Ashland have city ordinances that campaign signs on private property should be removed no later than seven days after the applicable election.
Jackson County Clerk Chris Walker said within the county but outside city limits, campaign signs are usually regulated by "gentleman's agreement."
Under gentleman's agreement, campaign signs are usually allowed 45 to 60 days ahead of a scheduled election and taken down within two to four weeks after the election.
"As far as the county goes, there's not a huge amount of sign ordinance," Walker said.
According to Oregon Department of Transportation Public Information Officer Gary Leaming, as long as signs don't block road signs or inhibit drivers and the county is still in an active campaign mode, there aren't a lot of regulations.
Basically, there is a possibility depending on where his campaign signs are that Winters could be breaking a city ordinance or coming close to breaking a gentleman's agreement, but neither is his responsiblity to enforce.
Jackson County Planning could either take your complaints regarding campaign signs or point you in the right direction. You can reach their front desk at 541-774-6907.
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