Candidate signs staying put

By Darrell Todd Maurina

A county commission candidate wants to get the county’s road policy amended to make it easier for residents to see her campaign signs.

Gloria Wicker asked the Curry County Commission on Wednesday to allow candidates to put signs in the right-of-way, which extends 30 feet from the center of county roads on each side. With the present rules on signs, Wicker said it is difficult to find locations where she can legally put up signs that will still be seen from the road.

But a county official said changing the road policy could pose safety concerns for drivers.

Danny Davis of the county road department said the setbacks exist for auto safety and the county could get sued if two cars crashed because they couldn’t see each other due to a campaign sign placed at an intersection without stop signs.

County attorney Steve Doerr cautioned the commission about making exceptions to policy for political candidates.

“I don’t see you can just carve out an exception here without changing the policy,” Doerr said. “If you’re going to allow signs in the right-of-way for candidates, you need to allow them for everybody.”

The commission didn’t vote on Wicker’s request Wednesday.

“It sounds like there are just too many questions and concerns about this for me to support it,” Commissioner Tim Ashley said.

Wicker said she accepted the decision even though she disagreed.

“I don’t think it’s right that in someone’s own driveway you can’t put up a sign on the road,” she said.

Wicker, a candidate for the District 4 seat covering most of southwest Curry County and part of the city of Clovis, said campaigning in the county is very different from her previous campaigns for the Clovis City Commission.

“In the city, you can maybe talk to 50 constituents a day, but out in the county because of the distances, you might only be able to talk to five constituents in some day,” Wicker said. “In my opinion, the only way you can have your constituents know what is going on is to have a sign.”

She added: “If these people give you permission to put a sign by their driveway, do you still need to put the sign 30 feet from the center of the road? I don’t see the need for that.”

In other county business:
• The county received a report from the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration noting that the Adult Detention Center now accounts for 45.6 percent of the county’s general fund expenses, up from 30.5 percent in the 2001 fiscal year.

“During the 2005 fiscal year general fund revenues must be monitored carefully and expenditures may require adjustments during the year to maintain the solvency of the county’s budget,” according to the report.

The report also noted that “the county may wish to increase property tax levels for the ensuing fiscal year” and that “cash balances in all the county’s major funds are decreasing and the Department of Finance and Administration will monitor this as the year progresses.”