By Connor Beach
The Huntington Republican Committee has accused the Town of Huntington of unfairly removing the political signs of Republican candidates in next week’s upcoming elections.
Huntington GOP Chair Toni Tepe said Monday that supporters noticed a dumpster in the town’s recycling center that was unusually full of lawn signs from Republican candidates.
“It’s become blatantly apparent that the sign inspectors are only picking up Republican signs,” Tepe said. “There have been several instances where people have seen them pick up signs; they’ll pick up a Chad Lupinacci sign, but a Tracey Edwards sign will be just a little ways down and they don’t pick that one up.”
She added, “If signs are placed where they should not be placed, and both parties have signs there, then both sets of signs should be taken down.”
Tepe also claimed that the town has not permitted Republican candidates to reclaim the signs that have been removed and placed in the dumpster at the recycling center at 641 New York Ave. in Huntington.
“I find it very disheartening that the town sent me a letter dated Aug. 16 that states that political signs can be picked up at the recycling center starting Oct. 13," Tepe said. "On the week of Oct. 16, I made a phone call to make an appointment to pick up our signs and I was told, ‘We’re not doing it anymore.’"
Town of Huntington Spokesman A.J. Carter said the Public Safety Department is responsible for town code enforcement regarding political signage. Carter added that both parties were informed by letter of the town code, which states all signs must be placed on private property and not within five feet of the town right-of-way.
“The issue is we don’t have a commitment that these signs are not going to be put back out in similar illegal spots,” Carter said. “It’s a matter of public safety. It’s a matter of signs being put up in the right-of-way that must remain clear, as well as being put on people’s lawns without permission.”
This election year has seen a greater proliferation of signs that have been placed in areas where they are not allowed, according to Carter. He also said that Public Safety has received complaints from residents that have prompted the removal of signs.
“The letter said the candidates could get their signs back provided that they are going to be put out properly, and we don’t have any statement that asserts that the signs will not be put out in the same spots,” Carter said. “No matter what the party or the candidate, if the inspectors see signs in places where they’re not allowed to be, they pick the signs up.”
Mary Collins, the Huntington Democratic Committee chair, said Democrats have, in the past, been able to pick up signs from the recycling center, but was unsure if any had been stopped from doing so this year.
She added, “This is not something anybody really pays attention to.”