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Councilor Dan Allie proposes change to temporary sign ordinance

Date: 8/14/2015

WESTFIELD – City Councilor Daniel Allie has proposed a change to the temporary sign ordinance that, he said, would make it easier for new candidates to get their names out in the community before an election.

The City Council conducted a public hearing for Allie’s proposal on July 2, and it will be continued in front of the Council and Planning Board.

As it stands now, the temporary sign ordinance allows signs to be put up 60 days before an event and cannot exceed 120 days. The proposal would change the limitations and allow signs up to 60 days consecutively but not more than 120 total calendar days. According to Allie it “prevents candidates from putting up signs without explicitly saying so.”

Allie worked with City Planner Jay Vinsky on the ordinance and said the original rule needed clarification.

“It’s almost in contradiction with itself. Sixty days before an event but not more than 120 days, it’s a contradiction,” he said. “It achieves equality [for candidates] in practice, but it doesn’t work.”

Allie, who was elected in 2013, faced his own issues when he initially ran for the City Council. Not originally from Westfield, he said he had to work even harder to get his name recognized in the city.

“I know how much work it is to run a campaign or to get your name out there. I have a pretty good idea because when you’re starting at zero because you’re young or not a politician or new to the area how much work it is to get elected,” Allie said. “Signs are kind of a unique way to inform the public of a name and candidacy. They associate a name with a face.”

In addition to the benefit for candidates to garner attention before an election, Allie said the current ordinances raises questions on restricting free speech and the rights of the property owners who choose to put up the political signs.

During his initial presentation, some councilors questioned how the new time restrictions would be implemented and kept track of, but the council kept the public hearing open until it could receive a recommendation from the Planning Board.

Allie will go in front of the Planning Board on Aug. 18 and the City Council on Aug. 20.