When someone runs for public office, they are asking the public to trust them to serve honorably and to uphold the laws and local ordinances of the community they serve. So it was with some interest that we have noted that candidate for Lincoln County Commissioner Ken Lundie appears to be, shall we say, challenged in both capacities.
For one, he earlier portrayed his prior political experience in California (from where he moved a short time ago) as being a “county commissioner.” We learned that he was not a county commissioner in the Oregon sense of the word, but a county HARBOR commissioner in San Mateo County, California. San Mateo County Harbor Commissioners have legal jurisdiction strictly over a set of recreational and commercial fishing docks, not the county as a whole. In light of this very important distinction, we questioned him about about his use of the term “county commissioner” to describe himself. He told us that “I hadn’t thought of it that way. Thanks for bringing it up.”
However, as his campaign progressed, Mr. Lundie continued to call himself a former “county commissioner,” even referring to himself as such in the official voters pamphlet. We find that troubling. Any and all statements made by those in whom we place our civic trust should be clearly transparent and not communicate in terms that are easily susceptible to public confusion or suspicion about what our civic leaders are telling us.
Secondly, Mr. Lundie has shown what can easily be seen as not complying with laws governing the placement of political campaign signs, one very large one at the corner of old SW 8th and 101 in Newport. ODOT tells News Lincoln County that Mr. Lundie’s truck, full of political campaign signs, is parked in ODOT’s, and therefore the public’s, right of way. This violates a prohibition of political campaign signs under state rules. In addition, the City of Newport requires a permit to place any privately owned signs in a public right of way and, if granted, to pay a fee for that permit. The Newport Community Development Department says Mr. Lundie has not applied for such a permit. Yet his truck remains parked there as of May 5th..
ODOT has also indicated that quite a few of Mr. Lundie’s campaign signs are illegally placed in public rights of way near Waldport on Highway 101 just north of the bridge, in Newport just north of Walmart on 101, and at the intersection of 101 and Lighthouse Drive, among others. Mr. Lundie also has a campaign sign just outside ODOT’s right of way but inside the boundary of Ona Beach State Park. That also breaks the rules.
Here is a statement issued by ODOT concerning campaign signs on its right of way.
“The biggest concern with signs along a highway is safety. Signs can obstruct views and create distractions for motorists.
With primary elections coming up in May, a proliferation of signs takes on increased scrutiny. If a political sign is in the ODOT right of way, we will remove it immediately if it’s a safety concern. If it does not pose an immediate safety concern, we’ll contact the campaign and ask for the sign’s removal. If the sign is not removed promptly, we’ll remove it. We always store signs confiscated from the ODOT right of way for 30 days at the District Headquarters. If the signs are not retrieved by then, we’ll destroy them.
Signs are prohibited on trees, utility poles, fence posts and natural features within the highway right of way. They are also prohibited within view of a designated scenic area.
In addition to signs in the ODOT right of way, there are rules affecting temporary political signs placed on private property visible from state highways.
–New signs are limited to 12 square feet.
–No flashing or intermittent lights, animated or moving parts are allowed.
–Signs must not imitate an official highway sign or device.
–Signs are not allowed in scenic corridors.”
Now, there may be those who might say, “What’s the big deal? It’s only campaign signs!? Everybody violates those rules.” Our position is, rules, thoughtfully created and officially enacted, are rules that should be obeyed. And as any police officer will tell you, ignorance of the law is no excuse. No one would suggest that we open up our road sides to placards and signs and clutter up our views of our beautiful state and coastline…totally apart from the danger of distracted drivers as referred to above by ODOT’s rules on signs in public rights of way. And we certainly expect our elected officials, and those who seek elected public office, to show respect for all laws and to comply with them.
Those in public office, and those who run for public office, must be clear in the way they express who they are, and be compliant with all rules and laws on the books. Those who don’t meet that test should be held accountable.