Scappoose political signs violate city ordinances
Rules for sign displays vary widely across county
With Election Day roughly seven weeks away, political advertising is again dotting the landscape, but some signs are in violation of city codes.
Incorporated cities within Columbia County have wildly varying sign ordinances.
In Scappoose, the city restricts political signs until 45 days before an election. The citys sign ordinance also limits signs to four square feet.
In neighboring St. Helens, campaign signs are allowed 120 days before an election, and must not be more than eight feet tall.
Columbia City, the most strict city in the county, requires a sign permit, but temporary signs no bigger than four square feet can be displayed five days prior to an election.
Without an ordinance, Columbia County defaults to state restrictions on political advertising.
Craig Marquardo of Scappoose said he filed a complaint with the city of Scappoose after seeing campaign signs for Scott Burge, who is running for reelection in the citys mayoral race.
Burge, who was elected mayor in 2006, acknowledged the mistake, saying he was unaware of his citys sign ordinance.
Michael Sykes, city manager for Scappoose, said the city will send letters to candidates in violation.
Honestly, I saw other signs out, so I started putting my signs out, Burge said.
He said he disagrees with the citys policy regarding political signs, saying it infringes on political free speech.
The standard campaign season is Labor Day to election day, Burge said. I think that our regulations need to be looked at. I think theyre too strict for political free speech. The rules really should be to enhance free speech and allow for all candidates to have a reasonable amount of time to put up their information.
Burge said he plans to remove signs that are in violation of the ordinance, with the exception of those placed on private property by other people.
I dont know what my right is to go on someones property and take down a sign, he noted.
He said hell place the signs back out in a few weeks.
Burge isnt the only candidate in violation.
County commissioner candidate Wayne Mayo has at least two billboard signs on highway frontage along Highway 30 in Scappoose.
Mayos signs far exceed the citys size restrictions, but would be acceptable just outside city limits, or in St. Helens.
Complaint filed by opposing campaign
Marquardo, who is working as the campaign manager of Burges opponent in the mayoral race, said Burge should know better.
Marquardo is helping to manage the campaign of Mark Reed, who serves as a Scappoose city councilor.
I solicited Mark [Reed] to run a while ago, Marquardo said. I thought about running myself, but decided I wasnt ready for that yet.
Marquardo, who manages property in Scappoose and owns a talent management agency, was convicted of election fraud in Hood River in 2006 after he made false statements about his work and military history in a voters pamphlet. At the time, Marquardo was running for a position on the Port of Hood River Board of Commissioners.
Reed said Wednesday that he was unaware of his campaign managers history.
I havent heard any of that, Reed said. Hes a hard worker. He approached me about running my campaign. All weve talked about is marketing and thats it.
Reed said he decided to run for mayor to effect change on the Scappoose City Council.
I dont have any issue with Scott, Reed said. I think hes a great guy, I just think its time for a change.