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Falmouth cracks down on illegal campaign signs

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Falmouth cracks down on illegal campaign signs

FALMOUTH — Political campaign signs sprout each fall, like a crop ready for harvesting. 

In Falmouth, this year's harvest has come early.

With the general election still 10 weeks away, the town has removed a dozen campaign signs from public property.

State and town laws prohibit campaign signs from being displayed on public right-of-ways more than six weeks in advance of an election – no earlier than Sept. 25 for the Nov. 6 election.

But after receiving complaints from residents, the town said it recently removed 11 illegal signs for the campaign of John Logan Jones, Republican candidate for the state House of Representatives in District 112. The district covers most of Falmouth, and is currently represented by Rep. Mary P. Nelson, D-Falmouth.

The town has also removed a sign for Republican Chris Tyll, who is running for the state Senate in District 11 against incumbent Sen. Richard Woodbury, U-Yarmouth.

Jones said his campaign placed about 25 signs, starting in late July, on what he believed was private property. Campaign signs on private property are permitted at any time.

The town's Department of Public Works removed signs that were placed within public right-of-ways bordering town roads, and notified Jones of their removal, Town Clerk Ellen Planer said.

The widths of the right-of-ways vary, depending on the location. Falmouth Road, where some of the offending signs were placed, has a right-of-way that extends 25 feet in each direction from the center of the road.

Jones contacted Planer to get clarification on the campaign sign rules, and he said in an email message, "to see if the town took them down or if someone is acting alone to take them down."

Signs that were removed by the town were made available for Jones to pick up.

Jones said the town overstepped its authority because he believed the signs were placed on private property. "But it's not an issue I'm really interested in fighting," he said.

Jones is now preparing to attend the Republic National Convention, where he is one of the 20 disputed Maine delegates supporting former GOP presidential candidate Rep. Ron  Paul.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or whall@theforecaster.net. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.