Signs of the Times

05Apr12

It happened two weekends ago.

Seemingly, if not literally, overnight, political yard signs sprung up like crocuses all over the town of Wakefield. Along main roads and side streets and especially on the coveted corner lots, each sign installation proclaimed a resident’s allegiance to a candidate or candidates in the April 24 Town Election.
DiNocco signFalvey signHull signLiakos signRenzullo sign
Some people don’t like political lawn signs, and some communities place restrictions on their use. But lawn signs can be an easy, inexpensive and effective form of advertising. Plus, they stick out like a sore thumb, so what’s not to like?

There’s an old saw that says, “Signs don’t vote.” But are a large number of signs indicative of broad support for a candidate? It’s doubtful that a political lawn sign will change the mind of an educated voter. Political signs are cynically aimed at those who can’t be bothered following politics but still consider it their civic duty to cast an uninformed vote. If they see a candidate’s name plastered all over town, they might just conclude that if lots of people support him, he must be good.

Or, say I don’t know anything about the candidates but I see a sign on my neighbor’s lawn. That may influence my vote, depending on whether or not I like my neighbor.

But lawn signs only go so far. The local candidate who really wants to tell voters how totally super-awesome he is must go all 21st century and have a slick web site and a social media presence for his campaign. Lawn signs can be used to drive traffic to a candidate’s web site, Facebook and Twitter account, increasing their return on investment.

For those who don’t like political lawn signs, I wish I could tell you that they’ll all be gone after April 24.

But if you think it’s all Galvin all the time now, wait until the Town Election is out of the way. The Town Meeting vote on the Galvin Middle School project takes place in May and if that passes the town-wide election on whether to increase your taxes to pay for a new Galvin is set for Saturday, June 9. So don’t be shocked when the candidates’ lawn signs are replaced by an equal or greater number of signs exhorting you to vote for a new Galvin Middle School because “Wakefield is Worth It.”

And after that there’s a little thing on the horizon called a Presidential Election, which also includes races for Senate and a Congress.

So however you feel about political lawn signs, you might as well get used to them. They aren’t going away for a while.

[This column originally appeared in the April 5, 2012 Wakefield Daily Item.]

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