Only days after the charged campaign season in Falls Church City ended, most of the signs advertising the myriad of candidates have disappeared. In fact, for at least the past 15 years, campaign signs have been getting cleaned up by the City’s Commissioner of the Revenue Tom Clinton as sort of a post-Election Day tradition.
“The votes have been counted and it’s time to move on,” said Clinton, who roves around the City in his pickup truck, filling up the flatbed with campaign signs.
“[Campaign signs are] kind of a necessary evil….if you don’t pick them up, some stay up for a while….it’s kind of the right thing to do.”
Clinton said that he usually starts gathering signs at the polling places after they have closed on Election Day, so that they can get back to serving whatever function – either as a community center, an apartment complex or an elementary school – they serve when it’s not Election Day.
Then most years, he goes around the City collecting signs wherever else they are on Wednesday.This year, he was feeling under the weather on Wednesday, so he did it Thursday.
On Thursday, he was joined by City councilmember Phil Duncan, who joins him in the public service some years, a tradition the two started when they managed the Citizens for a Better City campaigns in 2000.
Duncan said that he counted “about 125 signs” that he had collected and Clinton said that he estimated that about 200-250 signs in total were collected by all candidates and their campaign staff.
At approximately $7 – $9 per sign, as Clinton related it, between $1,400 – $2,250 in campaign signs were collected. Most of the signs are recycled, whether it be by the City or by candidates who might use the same signs in future elections to save money.
“It’s something we like to do to remind people that elections are an extension of public service,” Duncan said. He and his friend and campaign stalwart Jan Hertzsch started picking up his signs last Tuesday night after the polls closed.
“Win or lose you want to put the teeth-bearing part of the process – elections, where someone’s gotta win and someone’s gotta lose and naturally there’s a certain amount of conflict and degree of tension – you want to put that behind you and move on to governing.”