Drive a mile along a typical Pasco County road and there is a good chance you will pass as many as six illegal campaign signs. Not the ones touting candidates for the November general election; those are permissible. But, roadside signs pushing candidacies that ended with the Aug. 14 Florida primary violate the county's sign ordinance. The deadline to remove the advertising was five days after the election.
Some candidates clearly made good-faith efforts to remove their visual clutter and likely just missed a handful or are unaware of where their supporters stuck their placards. Others must not care.
Here is a sample of what was visible more than a week after the deadline for removal: 36 signs along six miles of U.S. 41 south of State Road 52; 16 signs on the three miles along SR 52 between U.S. 41 and the Suncoast Parkway; clutter at SR 52 in Darby, at the intersection of Old Pasco and Overpass roads; along U.S. 19 in Hudson and State Road 54/56 in Wesley Chapel.
Rep. Richard Corcoran's family portraits along U.S. 41 and the smiling face of his vanquished opponent Strother Hammond near Moon Lake Road are illegal. So, too, are the still-standing signs for Sen.-elect John Legg on Collier Parkway and the numerous signs for school superintendent Heather Fiorentino in central Pasco.
The races for Republican Party posts are over, but only Sandy Graves has cleaned up entirely. Signs for Bill Bunting, Steve Simon and Nancy Britton trash the landscape, including one large placard for Simon near the entrance of the Saddlebrook Resort in Wesley Chapel where the delegates from Texas and Louisiana are staying during this week's Republican National Convention. You want to impress the out-of-town pols? Clean up after yourself.
Ron Oakley, Ted Schrader, Don Stephenson, Joanne Hurley, Jack Mariano, Bill Gunter, Maurice Radford, Christopher Gregg, Karen King, Joshua Griffin, Joseph Poblick, Eva Vergos, Brian Battaglia and John Korsak are still building name recognition among motorists. None of their names are on the November ballot.
Pasco County's sign ordinance, contained in the land development code, is clear. It states, "temporary political campaign signs may be posted no earlier than fifteen (15) days prior to the date of candidate qualification and must be removed no later than five (5) calendar days after the election to which they relate.'' In other wards, the signs should have been picked up no later than Aug. 19.
Throughout the campaign, roadside signs are political advertising. Sixteen days after the election, they are litter.
People anxious to obtain elected office can start serving the public right now by collecting their campaign remnants and helping to beautify Pasco's roads.