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Sign placement was an issue for some

Every candidate gets a little anxious on Election Day. Here in Farmington, though, a few city council candidates got a little feisty, too. A few of the city council candidates took last-minute issue with the location of signs for one of their challengers, Jason Bartholomay.

Minnesota state statutes prohibit candidates from displaying campaign signs on public property within 100 feet of the building where a polling place is located. County ordinance also prohibits any signage from being placed in county right-of-way.

Bartholomay's signs were in both on Tuesday, particularly near the downtown precincts. But his were not the only ones encroaching the precinct boundaries on the northern side of town.

City administrator Peter Herlofsky said Dakota County had dispensed crews to remove several signs -- including those of other city council candidates, school board candidates and even state and federal candidates -- from questionable locations near polling places for Precinct 3 (Meadowview Elementary School), Precinct 4 (Akin Road Elementary School) and Precinct 5 (Bible Baptist Church).

"There have been a number of complaints throughout the day," Herlofsky said. "Everybody has pushed it to the limits."

Herlofsky attributed some of the problem to the sheer number of candidates on the local ballot this year, for both the city council and the school board. In more than one location, candidates seemed to stack signs, all competing to get theirs out front. And in places like Akin Road near Precinct 5 polls or 195th Street near the Precinct 3 polls, that meant many of the signs encroached polling place boundaries or were placed in the county's right-of-way.

Regardless, they were all moved.

Downtown, candidate David Pritzlaff challenged the placement of two of Bartholomay's signs near the Rambling River Center, which was the polling place for Precinct 1. Herlofsky met with Pritzlaff and removed one of the signs -- the one that was in the city's right-of-way and was less than 100 feet from the building. A larger sign on the corner of Fourth and Oak streets stayed, because it was placed on private property.

"That's the thing. If they're more than 100 feet away but still visible, or on private property and still visible, they aren't doing anything wrong," Herlofsky said.

Dakota County's Kevin Boyle, who coordinated the 2010 election, reported Tuesday afternoon that no one had filed any formal complaint against Bartholomay for the placement of his campaign signs. Boyle wasn't surprised to hear there were candidate challenges, though.

"It's always an issue on Election Day. Someone doesn't like a sign on private property or there are cars with bumper stickers that they don't like," Boyle said.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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