Letters to the Editor

Political signs need restricting

It’s nice to see our “scenic byways” a little more picturesque with the removal of all those political signs. It bothers me that many of the signs were allowed to be up for nearly a year.

Speaking of signs on the highways, in 1932, George Albert Kellogg, in his book, “A History of Whidbey’s Island,” wrote this about signage:

“And now, in this first year of the New Deal, I hear, kind reader, that there is to be a bridge across Deception Pass. What will become, I wonder, of the mystery, the shaded quiet, and age-old charm of those deep, swirling waters and the shores that confine them? The lone ferry, chugging in occasional passage; that sense of detachment from a prosaic world when once again you’ve gotten ‘across to the Island’? Do you suppose the Island roads, congested with traffic, will invite the outdoor advertising companies to erect their billboards? Will these winding highways of dignified rural beauty end in a sacrifice to the brazenly flaunted values of ‘FitRite’ store clothes, to ‘Mammal’ cigarettes, and ‘Bell’ gasoline?”

I’ve nearly reached the point where I won’t vote for a candidate who blatantly pollutes our roads with large signs way before an election. Why can’t there be a regulation where political signs are allowed only after a candidate has officially filed for office?

The town of Coupeville has a political sign ordinance. This year signs were put up on Main and Coveland streets which, I wrongly assumed, exceeded that square footage. This candidate looked at me every day I walked or drove down Main or Coveland. This quaint and historic town of Coupeville should have an ordinance limiting the maximum size of a sign to something that is not visual pollution.

Don’t get me wrong. I do see the necessity for political signs. My preference is for individuals making a statement with a sign or two in their front yards for preferred candidates or issues.

Knowing that Island small businesses have to go through multitudes of hoops to get a sign approved for their small enterprises, why aren’t there similar ordinances for candidates to follow? Is it because these placards benefit politicians and they make the rules?

George Kellogg went on to say, “If the bridge must come, for my part, I hope some intrepid person will organize a band of green-shirted young Islanders, who, with saw and axe in the dark of every moon, will clear the roadsides of the loathful panels. The law will frown on such an activity, but in the Happy Hunting Grounds of those Indians who met Master Whidbey on the Island shore, there will be a great rejoicing; and for the faithful axe wielders, an eternal reward in those shadowy Preserves reserved for all good Skagits.”

Let’s hope our elected officials (state, county and local) can do something before the next election.

If not, I have a green shirt! Are there others?

(By the way, you can purchase “A History of Whidbey’s Island” at the Island County Museum).

Vern Olsen


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