By Adam Swift
A proposed City Council order that would repeal the city’s political sign ordinance because it violates the First Amendment and is unconstitutional is heading to the legislative affairs committee prior to a final vote.
At a public hearing on the order Monday night, there were no residents that spoke either for or against the order. However, several councilors who said they support the order added that they would still like to see some action to make sure Revere is not inundated with oversized political signs during election season.
The original motion from Ward 3 Councillor Anthony Cogliandro came in the wake of a Supreme Court decision ruling that limiting political signs on private property is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment.
The city ordinance states that no political sign shall be erected in a residential district until 30 days prior to the date of a primary or preliminary election. In a business or industrial district, the signs may be put up 45 days before the election, and signs must be removed within 10 days after the election.
Adherence to that ordinance has traditionally been spotty at best, with candidates traditionally jockeying to be the first one to spread the word about their candidacy with city-wide signs.
At Monday night’s public hearing, both Cogliandro and Councillor-at-Large Marc Silvestri said they would still like to see some mechanism in place to keep sign pollution in check, even if the political sign ordinance is repealed.
“I think it is a great amendment, and I believe in the First Amendment wholeheartedly,” said Silvestri. “I do have a question about maybe putting something in place with no (four-foot by eight-foot signs) on homes or no structures built to hold signs.”
Silvestri said right now, people are building large structures to hold signs in front of their homes and that it’s not a good look. However, he said if that measure were determined to violate the First Amendment, he would be against it.
Cogliandro said there should be accountability from candidates at the beginning of an election season, with all the candidates meeting in public to hash out when they would begin to put up signs and when they would come down.
“That way, it would be done in a public forum and we don’t have a mess of signs all over the place,” said Cogliandro.