A bill authored by Senator Tommy Morrison that will change the look of Guam's roadside landscape during election time won 10-5 passage at the legislature.
Morrison's Bill 138 prohibits political signs on public property – with the exception of signs that are used in connection with roadside waving. Senator Morrison thanked his colleagues, Speaker Cruz and Senators Ada, Torres, Aguon, Espaldon, Esteves, Muna, Nelson, Rodriguez, San Agustin and San Nicolas, for helping to create the environment necessary for elections to be “a competition of solutions to various issues, rather than a contest about who has the biggest or most campaign signs.”
“I wish to thank former Senator Robert Klitzkie for actively engaging in the public hearings on Bill 138 and for reminding us that campaign signs, alone, don’t guarantee a candidate’s success in an election," Morrison said. Morrison said the former legislator told him that everything worked against him when he ran for public office – a small family, an unfamiliar last name, and only a couple of dozen campaign signs. Despite these challenges, Senator Klitzkie finished in the top 10 for the legislative race and eventually served a second term.”
Guam’s present political sign law gives campaigns free rein to put up as many signs as they can afford on public property – without considering the kind of impact these signs have on our safety, environment, and tourism industry. To help address concerns involving excessive and poorly maintained signs, certain laws including P.L. 32-209 by Senator Morrison were enacted recently which shortened the number of days political signs are allowed to be posted on government property, established a 15-day period following a special or general election for signs to be removed, and imposes a $25 per sign penalty for violations. Senator Morrison says despite these efforts, “campaigns continue to place signs in Guam’s tourist district, along beautiful parks and overlooks, and in front of or otherwise within close proximity to cultural and historic sites.”
In March of this year, GVB forwarded a letter from the agency’s roadside maintenance contractor to the legislature detailing the impact excessive and poorly maintained political signs have on the safety of its personnel. The contractor also described challenges in cleaning our roadways and shoulders in a timely and efficient manner – with rebar, wire, and other sign materials left behind from the 2016 campaign causing damage to company equipment. Moreover, former Senator Klitzkie presented testimony during both public hearings on Bill 138 about the safety dimension of political signs. He spoke about an accident in Yigo a few years ago where a person was killed possibly due to another driver’s visibility being obstructed by political signs as their vehicle exited an intersection.
“Excessive and poorly maintained campaign signs are dangerous – period. With Bill 138, we have an opportunity to improve this aspect of our elections. Although we still have a long way to go in our broader effort to address sign violations across our island, senators and other elected officials can and should lead by example with changes to our political sign law. I respectfully urge Governor Calvo to join members of the 34th Guam Legislature in promoting safer and cleaner elections moving forward,” said Morrison.