Just as campaign signs started to pop up on boulevards in Brandon, a heavy downpour washed them away.
Mayoral candidate Rick Chrest said after Thursday’s rain, his team had to remove most of his new signs, made of a recyclable paper product.
"We used a less expensive, recyclable type of product deliberately and knew that we would have to replenish them if we had bad weather," Chrest said. "We didn’t expect to have such a huge downpour within a couple of days of putting them up."
Some signs may have been taken or knocked down by vandals; however, Chrest can’t say for sure.
"We did notice there was a few stakes that were knocked over as well, which would not have happened from the rain … so maybe somebody knocked some over, who knows?" he said. "But I’m not going to make more out of that than it is. This was clearly a very heavy rain that damaged them."
Chrest said they ordered enough signs and they plan to re-post them. He said he made the decision to post campaign signs to help raise awareness for the election, as many constituents he has spoken to still don’t know there is an election coming up.
"I feel like once the signs start popping up, people are certainly more aware," he said. "My signs have the date on them so that’ll help them to know when it is."
He also said signs give residents an opportunity to get involved, and show support for their chosen candidate by posting a sign on their lawn.
"I’ve already had several calls of people … wanting a sign, so it’s also a … part of the community engagement," he said.
Chrest’s signs are a biodegradable paper product, which he plans to recycle.
According to Leech Printing, the cost of one paper-based sign is $2 to $3 per sign. The plastic signs typically seen in election campaigns cost in the range of $4 to $6 per sign.
Meanwhile, incumbent Mayor Shari Decter Hirst has popped up on at least one billboard in Brandon this week. She said she is doing traditional outdoor advertising — buses, billboards and bus shelters — instead of the hundreds of boulevard campaign signs.
"When I’ve been on the doorstep, people recognize who I am, they understand what we’ve accomplished in the last four years, they know what my commitments are for the upcoming four years," she said. "I don’t think a cardboard sign stuck into the boulevard on 18th Street for the next six weeks is going to enhance that."
Decter Hirst said she also considered the environmental impact of the signs, and clutter on the boulevards.
For a cost comparison, the Brandon Sun contacted Pattison Outdoor Advertising. Joanne Fershau, director of sales, said costs depend on the length of time and how many ads there are. However, generally for a four-week period, billboards cost $1,500, exterior bus ads are in the range of $300-$400 and transit shelter adds range from $500 to $600. Fershau said those prices do not include the additional production cost.
Mayoral candidate Mark Kovatch has yet to put out any signs, but confirmed Thursday that he still plans to.
"I will put up signs, but my main focus will be on actually talking to people," he said. "I’m not going to put up signs just for the sake of quantity. I know last election there were so many signs on 18th Street, you couldn’t read whose name was whose."
Kovatch would like to get his ideas across and break the stereotype of having to spend a lot of money to win an election. He plans to line up a number of venues to speak in the coming weeks, and says no group is too big or too small to "have a chat, express my ideas and listen to others."
Some councillor candidates have weighed in on the sign topic through their social media campaigns. Vanessa Hamilton, candidate in Riverview ward, says she will be scaling back.
"I've received feedback that all the signs do get overwhelming at election time. It’s not about outdoing fellow candidates. I believe it's about really connecting with residents," Hamilton posted on social media.
Rosser ward candidate Kris Desjarlais said he will not be staking any signs on city boulevards.
"We believe signs should be used as a sign of support and not as an advertisement. Lawn signs during an election reflect an engaged citizenry and help build momentum to campaigns," Desjarlais wrote on his "Desjy for Downtown" Facebook page.
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