What’s Up With All Those Yard Signs?

Arnold didn’t need yard signs. Neither did Jerry. But at the local level, candidates do, which explains all those yard signs that have popped up all over San Carlos.

When it comes to local politics, “people are not well informed,” said Terry Christensen, a professor at San Jose State University, adding that yard signs are “incredibly important” for two reasons: they help with name recognition of the candidates and remind people there’s an upcoming election.

Christensen, who specializes in state and local politics, says yard signs placed on someone’s front yard serves as an endorsement of the candidate and has, “considerably more credibility than a flyer left on your door.” Of course, depending on what you think of that neighbor with the yard sign, reactions may be positive…or negative.

John, a longtime White Oaks resident who asked to be identified by first name only, has one of Ron Collins’ distinctive red and white yard signs on his manicured lawn facing a well-trafficked east-west street.

John admitted to not knowing much about Collins’ position on various issues facing San Carlos, but is supporting him because he’s a “great guy, a really nice man” who’s been active in the community for decades. (For the record, John couldn’t name any current members of the City Council)

Collins says he’s had 250 yard signs printed and, so far, has distributed close to 200, handing some out every time he goes door-to-door doing the campaign meet-and-greet.

Incumbent Randy Royce says he’s given out about 150 yard signs. “You put them out to show that you’re known in town,” Royce said.

Some residents have two yard signs, like the house on St. Francis endorsing Mark Olbert (the former school board trustee) and Ron Collins (the local businessman)…which also serves as a handy reminder that people will get to vote for two City Council candidates on Tuesday, November 8th.

Assistant City Manager Brian Moura says he believes that “walking the neighborhoods and knocking on doors” is more important, something non-incumbents Olbert and Collins are doing.

In an email, Moura wrote: “That’s how Omar Ahmad won his seat. Few people knew him before the election, even though he sat on the Economic Development Advisory Commission (EDAC).”

Still, a candidate can only knock on so many doors.

Harriet Shakes, a graphic designer based in Palo Alto, has designed many political yard signs, including the one for Ron Collins.  “In a local election, they’re key,” she said.

“They’re relatively inexpensive for the candidate and give a lot of bang for the buck,” Shakes said, adding that people see them every day as they drive around town, reinforcing name recognition.



Filed Under: Column 2San Carlos Politics


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