Electioneering intensifies ahead of vote

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A sign promoting the Trump-Pence campaign is posted Sept. 2 near the intersection of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue in Holmes Beach. At least six Trump-Pence signs were at the commercial location that morning, 18 days before such signs are allowed in Holmes Beach. Islander Photo: Lisa Neff
Holmes Beach Commission candidate Jayne Christenson stands next to her vehicle and a magnetic sign for her campaign. The sign is allowed, according to Holmes Beach election and sign regulations. Islander Courtesy Photo: Jayne Christenson

By Ryan Paice and ChrisAnn Allen

Islander Reporter

The grass and shell yards on Anna Maria Island soon may be adorned with Nov. 3 election signage.

People in Holmes Beach can post signs supporting political candidates and causes beginning Sept. 19, as the city allows signs 45 days before an election. The general election is Nov. 3 and includes federal, state and local races.

If political signs are placed before the 45-day point, Holmes Beach code compliance notifies the property owner and requests removal of the sign.

If a noncompliant sign remains, code removes and stores it, and allows retrieval at city hall, 5801 Marina Drive.

Political flags are not considered signs in any of the island cities. Neither are vehicle decals and decorations, according to city officials.

Holmes Beach Commission candidate Jayne Christenson decorated her golf cart, bike and car with campaign signs. And the signage is permitted by every city on the island.

“There isn’t anything in the code stipulating she can’t have it on her vehicle,” Police Chief Bill Tokajer said Sept. 2.

General election signs, some new and others leftover from the August primary, were under review by Holmes Beach code compliance Sept. 2.

The week beginning Aug. 31, eight campaign signs for Donald Trump were posted at the southeast corner of East Bay Drive and Manatee Avenue and remained at the location for at least five days.

“We are looking at all the signs to make sure they are compliant,” Tokajer said. “We’ll be doing a sweep of signs as soon as we make sure we are on the right track.”

Residents and businesses do not need a permit for election signage. However, signs in Holmes Beach can be no more than 5 square feet in residential districts or 16 square feet at commercial locations.

Election signage in the city must be removed within 48 hours after the election.


Anna Maria regs

In Anna Maria, property owners can post at least one 2-square-foot sign per property at any time and that sign can be election-related, regardless of proximity to an election date, according to city regulations.

However, residents can post an “unlimited” number of “temporary signs for predictable events,” such as an election, without a permit during a 30-day window, which would open Oct. 4.

Signs placed on residential properties in Anna Maria cannot exceed 4 square feet, cannot be double-sided, must be placed parallel to the roadway and located “no closer” than 10 feet from the intersection of the private property line and right of way.

The signage cannot stand more than 3 feet tall, unless attached to a building façade.

Most election signs in Anna Maria must be removed within two days after the election. However, property owners are permitted to keep one 2-square-foot sign posted at any time, including political signage.

“Election sign violations have not been a large problem for the city in the past and on average we’ve handled one or two a year, at most,” code enforcement manager Debbie Haynes wrote in a Sept. 2 email to The Islander. “None to my knowledge have resulted in a citation as compliance is generally achieved through removal of the sign.”


Bradenton Beach rules

In Bradenton Beach, political signs can be erected Oct. 4, according to city code.

A property can hold one ground-based political sign at each road frontage. The signs can stand up to 10 feet tall but cannot exceed 6 square feet in residential districts or 32 square feet in other districts.

Political signs on residential properties must be set back at least 12 feet from the front lot line and 10 feet from the side and rear lot lines.

Political signage in Bradenton Beach’s nonresidential districts must adhere to 5-foot setbacks from property lines or a 25-foot setback from an abutting residential district.

Signage posted before the 30-day window opens on an election may be removed by code enforcement officers. People can retrieve confiscated signage from city hall for a $35 fee.

The city’s land development code requires property owners to remove political signs within 7 days after the election.


AMI and beyond

Additionally, state law prohibits the placement of political signs on rights of way along state roads, including Gulf Drive/State Road 789, Manatee Avenue/State Road 64 and Cortez Road/State Road 684.


Did you know?

Removing a campaign sign from private property constitutes theft in all three island cities.