In what appears to be a miscommunication among town officials, several Sandy Treadwell campaign signs in the Town of Clifton Park will be taken down in a reversal of the town's position.
The signs recently came under fire from the Clifton Park Democratic Committee. The Democrats alleged that the sign was too large to be in adherence with the town's code. The Treadwell signs were 32 square feet, while the code specifies a maximum of 16 square feet in commercial zones and 4 square feet in residential areas.
Though Steven Myers, the town's director of building and zoning, said days ago that signs on private property are protected as free speech, Town Attorney Tom McCarthy called the Treadwell campaign on Wednesday, Oct. 23, and asked that the signs be removed.
We want to be good neighbors, and so we will reach out and make sure the signs come down, said Treadwell Campaign Manager Bill McGahay.
Evidently, an earlier discussion between McCarthy and Myers about Kirsten Gillibrand campaign signs on residential properties had been extrapolated to apply to the current issue. McCarthy explained that, after reviewing federal case law, free speech is handled differently on residential and commercial areas.
"A municipality has to tread very lightly when you try to limit political speech on someone's front yard," he said. "Along Route 146, that's not someone's front yard."
There are approximately six of the large signs in Clifton Park, according to McGahay, with 90 to 100 across the 10 counties of the 20th Congressional District.
"This is the first town that has asked us to do this," said McGahay.
McCarthy said the decisions did not have " and never had " any political implications.
"It was a decision made at the staff level on both instances," he said. "We never dealt with any Town Board members.""