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Political sign flap develops
by Tim Delaney
Apr 17, 2014 | 133 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
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REFUGIO COUNTY – An anonymous complaint about Refugio County Judge Rene Mascarro’s political signs led to a Texas Department of Transportation rule pertaining to campaign signs.

The message, posted April 8th, read, “Why does Rene Mascorro get to leave his signs up?” The message was pointed to the TxDOT campaign sign rule online.

The complaint was posted on mySouTex.com, the website for the Refugio County Press.

The campaign sign rule states: “Campaign signs may be posted as early as 90 days before an election (no earlier) and must be removed 10 days after the election.”

Ten days after the March 4 Primary Election was March 14. The general election is Nov. 4.

The rule can be found at txdot.gov/inside-txdot/division/right-of-way/campaign-signs.html.

Ian Stensloss, Texas Ethics Commission assistant general counsul, said his commission has no laws under its authority, pertaining to campaign signs.

“TxDOT has some laws,” Strensloss said.

He added that the Texas Ethics Commission works hand in hand on campaign issues.

TxDOT public information officer Rickey Daily said, “When a campaign sign is brought to TxDOT’s attention, typically through a complaint – and most often from an opposing candidate, TxDOT will do an inspection.”

He said if the signs are found to be out of compliance, TxDOT would send a letter notifying the candidate of the sign’s non-compliance, with a statement to remove the sign.

“I think the difference is between private property and signs along the right of way,” said Mascorro, who is the Democratic candidate for county judge.

“I can take the signs down if that’s what people want,” he added.

Dailey said if the sign is inside the city limits, then enforcement is that city’s responsibility.

Refugio City Secretary Callie Shreckengost said the city has no ordinance regulating campaign signs except if they are in the city’s right of way.

Otherwise, Shreckengost said the city usually follows state rules.

Bayside has an ordinance requiring the removal of signs after 30 days. And Woodsboro does not have a campaign sign rule.

Mascorro said his focus in the campaign was creating jobs and opportunities within the county, and he didn’t have signs at the forefront of his mind.

“I haven’t received any letters from TxDOT,” he added.

Mascorro said he plans to take down any signs in violation of the rules, beginning Tuesday and through Wednesday.

He said he also would ask property owners who have his signs what they want to do.

Republican candidate for Refugio County Judge Bobby Blaschke said he was aware of the rule when he received his packet to run for the county judge position from Republican County Chairman Jeff Steele .

“I went around, picked up signs and followed the rule,” Blaschke said.

Blaschke said he thinks TxDOT has the rule for the landscape’s sake and for private property owners. However, the rule lays responsibility on candidates, not property owners, to remove the signs.

Blaschke said he would never lay the responsibility of removing the signs on the property owners.

“I felt like it was something I needed to adhere to,” Blaschke said.
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