NEWS HEADLINES

New law allows electioneering near polling locations in Bridgeport

By Erika Pedroza | Published Wednesday, January 15, 2014

{{{*}}}Politicians have free range to electioneer in the city of Bridgeport, sort of.

At its meeting Jan. 7, the council opted to not enact any additional regulations, following the passing of House Bill 259.

The bill, which was signed into law during the 83rd regular legislative session this summer, allows electioneering near polling places during voting periods.

Previously, electioneering, including the posting of signs and distribution of literature, was prohibited on voting premises. The new bill now allows that, as long as it’s more than 100 feet from the doors to the voting place.

Provisions of the new law also allow the entity that owns the building where voting takes place to enact “reasonable regulations” in regard to the time, place and manner of electioneering.

In the city of Bridgeport, early voting is held at the law enforcement center while election day voting is at city hall. County elections are held at the community center. Therefore, the council had the ability to enact additional regulations in regard to the size, number and placement of signs at those places.

Despite the recommendation of city staff, who pointed out the issue of mowing around multiple signs among other issues, elected officials opted not to make any amendments to city regulations, which apply to private and public property.

In accordance with those regulations, political signs cannot:

  • be illuminated;
  • stand more than 8 feet in height;
  • have an effective area of greater than 36 feet;
  • have any moving element;
  • be placed on private property without the consent of the property owner;
  • obstruct visibility at street intersections;
  • be affixed to a public utility pole, structure or tree that is located on public land or in a public right-of-way

They must be maintained in good structural condition.

“I don’t care to add any more regulations, as long as they pick (the signs) up,” Councilman Bobby Brazier said. “It’s only going to be for a couple of weeks.”

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Officials also called the May 10 general and special elections.

The general election will be held to elect the positions of mayor and place 1 and 2 on the council, currently held by Keith McComis, A.Z. Smith and Kathy Kennedy.

In the special election, voters will determine a successor for place 3. Jimmy Meyers was appointed to the post in August to fill a vacancy created when Kevin Lopez resigned. Although there are two years left on the term, according to local government code, the person appointed to fill the vacancy serves only until the next regular election.

The council also:

  • approved the transfer of two airport hangar leases from Crisp Real Estate Partners LP to Ron Rieman;
  • OK’d the minutes from the Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 meetings; and
  • reviewed the Dec. 19-Jan. 8 payment report in the amount of $186,564.69.

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