Durham County

Oops, there it is. Improper political sign shows up 2 months before voting in Durham election

A Farad Ali for mayor sign near the intersection of Hyde Park Avenue and Main Street. Ali removed the sign as soon as he learned that it was in the right of way, which isn’t allowed until 45 days before voting starts.
A Farad Ali for mayor sign near the intersection of Hyde Park Avenue and Main Street. Ali removed the sign as soon as he learned that it was in the right of way, which isn’t allowed until 45 days before voting starts. vbridges@heraldsun.com

Candidates don’t start filing to run for office until Friday, but the city has already told one mayoral hopeful that one of his signs has jumped the gun.

Landus Robertson II, acting zoning enforcement supervisor, reviewed the locations of three political signs put up for Farad Ali, a former City Council member who is running for mayor.

A sign in the right-of-way near East Main Street and South Hyde Park Avenue was in violation of a rule that prohibits signs in the right-of-way until 45 days before voting starts, Robertson said. Absentee ballots by mail in the municipal primary start Sept. 8.

Ali said he would remove the sign after a reporter contacted him Monday. The sign had been there at least since Thursday.

Ali said it was probably an overzealous supporter.

“We need to get it picked up and removed,” he said. “I know better. ... I know not to put signs in the right-of-way, and I did not do it, nor do I think anyone from my team did it.”

Two signs outside the Latino Community Credit Union in downtown Durham were not in violation since they were on private property, Robertson said.

Etna Claro, director of facilities for the credit union, confirmed that the signs were sanctioned by someone at the organization, but referred additional questions to a spokeswoman who was out of the office.

The Planning Department’s process for campaign signs that are in violation includes notifying the campaign and then issuing a notice of violation if the sign isn’t removed, Robertson said.

If the sign isn’t removed after a notice of violation is issued, the campaign can face a $500 fine.

Ali is one of four candidates who have announced plans to runs for mayor after Mayor Bill Bell has said he doesn’t plan to run again.

Councilman Steve Schewel; Pierce Freelon, a hip-hop artist and founder of digital maker space Blackspace; and small-business owner Kershemia “Shea” Ramirez have also indicated they will run for mayor.

Municipal candidates can file to run in the election between July 7 and July 21.

Virginia Bridges: 919-829-8924, @virginiabridges

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