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Staking their claims

Election candidates blitz public property with campaign signs

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AFTER a summertime slow burn, all signs are finally pointing to a civic election.

Campaign signs started popping up on lawns all over town Saturday, a Labour Day long weekend tradition marking the semiofficial start of the civic election campaign.

Several candidates hosted open houses or launched sign blitzes Saturday, including Mayor Sam Katz and challenger Judy Wasylycia- Leis, both of whom hoped to stake signs on 1,000 lawns over the weekend.

Katz was out Saturday on Scotia Street and in Linden Woods, while Wasylicia-Leis started in Wolseley as teams left her Portage Avenue office laden with dozens of signs ready to deliver to supporters.

Old Kildonan candidate Devi Sharma said she hopes the appearance of signs will be a catalyst for more interest in her Old Kildonan race and tougher questions at the door.

"I ask people whether they’ve started thinking about the election and they say ‘Not until you showed up,’ " said Sharma, who hosted an open house at her campaign office Saturday afternoon. Volunteers put up 159 signs in the wide-open ward, where she is facing off against Casey Jones, who finished third in the ward in 2006, Robert Chennels and Joseph Payjack.

With tight spending limits that all but preclude big-time advertising, election signs are one way candidates can boost their name recognition.

Wasylycia-Leis said Saturday she believes every sign should equal a real vote.

The city technically allows signs on public property such as medians and boulevards, but there are dozens of fussy exceptions and the fine print is so tricky that it’s easier to avoid public lawns altogether. Signs are banned on more than two dozen major streets and there are a host of niggly rules dictating how far a sign must be from curbs, turning lanes and driveways.

Katz and Wasylycia-Leis have said they’ll avoid public property altogether to reduce visual clutter.

Signs started appearing late last week on private lawns in some wards, including Daniel McIntyre. That’s allowed by city campaign rules, which don’t govern signs on private lawns, according to city election officials.

maryagnes.welch@freepress.mb.ca

History

Updated on Monday, September 6, 2010 at 1:53 PM CDT: Clarifies that list of rules applies to public property.

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