Sharply divided on the issue, the City Council this week voted 3 to 2 to pursue a tougher stand on the posting of political campaign posters.
The vote directed the city's staff to have an ordinance drafted for a public hearing at the council's next meeting, March 11.
At issue is a proposal to put teeth in the city's existing ordinance regulating noncommercial signs, including campaign placards. The change would allow the city to assess its removal costs for any signs posted in prohibited areas.
Mayor Walter K. Bowman, along with Councilwomen Cecilia L. Age and Gail H. Kerry, support a stricter law. Councilwoman Mary Ann Jones and Councilman Tom Carroll oppose it.
Jones said she would be strongly opposed to any type of fee charged for sign removal. "In many cases, candidates don't have control over where people put signs for them," she said.
In rebuttal, Kerry said the city has long had a law regulating the placement of political signs.
"If we're not going to enforce it, why have an ordinance?" she asked.
The council deadlocked 2 to 2 on the issue two weeks ago, when Age was ill and absent from the meeting. At Monday night's meeting, Age said she strongly supports putting teeth into the sign law.
Before a first reading of the proposal on March 11, the council will seek public comment.