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Signs, signs, everywhere are signs ...

By Ed Brock

It does not please Betty Matthews of Jonesboro to see political signs for Clayton County probate judge still littering the side of Battlecreek Road more than a month after the election for that position was held.

"It's just trash by the side of the road," Matthews said.

With municipal elections scheduled for Tuesday, new signs for candidates in those contests have been planted in yards and, in some cases, along the roadside as well, leading some to wonder who will pick all of those up after the votes have been cast.

"We just ask the candidates to pick them up after the election or city workers will," Riverdale City Clerk Sandra Meyers said. "We've had pretty good luck with the city elections in the past. We've had more trouble with county, state and national elections."

Meyers didn't mention a time limit for candidates to collect their signs, but in Jonesboro they have three days, City Clerk Joanie Jones said. After that, the city grabs them.

"We keep them at the maintenance lot for a couple of weeks and if people call we let them know they're there," Jones said.

It's no small potatoes to buy the signs to begin with. Candidates in local elections generally order about 100 signs and the cost can be between $100 and $200, said Todd Hanner, owner of Autograph Signs, Inc., in Morrow. A candidate in countywide elections or a supporter of a cause in such an election, such as the recently passed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax in Clayton County, can spend around $800 for the 500 or so signs they would need.

The price per sign varies with the number ordered, Hanner said. Just the wooden stakes alone costs between 35 to 45 cents each. Jones said the stakes cost more than $1.

"And they make great tomato stakes," Jones said.

Hanner said his company is not the biggest producer of political signs in the county.

"I'd say more and more folks are getting them done over the Internet," Hanner said.

It's not really the job of the Clayton County Transportation and Development Department to pick up the signs, director Wayne Patterson said, but usually they are called to do the job if the signs are left for too long.

"I have told my people that if they see any of those to pick them up," Patterson said.

About a week ago they picked up a sign for the SPLOST vote from the side of the road in the panhandle area, Patterson said. Technically it is against the county's code to put signs in the right-of-way areas, but a laissez faire approach is usually taken toward that, Patterson said, and the signs are often allowed to stay.

"I think that as time goes by you'll see the commissioners tighten up on that," Patterson said.

Meanwhile, when told that some of his signs were possibly among the ones left on Battlecreek Road, former probate judge candidate Clay Davis promised immediate action.

"I'll get them up this weekend," Davis said.

He thought that people helping him with the campaign had already collected the signs, Davis said, and he hadn't seen any around.