Election Day is more than a month away but we already have such a clear front-runner that I wanted to take a moment to give her some recognition. Without a doubt, Dr. Janet Siddiqui is the overall leader in illegally-placed campaign signs. No one else even comes close.
Let's give Dr. Siddiqui her due. To be a leader in illegally-placed signs takes more than just having lots of money and being extremely well-connected. It takes dedication and hard work. Above all, it takes a complete disregard of Howard County election laws. Having been on the Board of Education for as long as she has, it must be difficult to feign ignorance of the law, year after year.
Political signs have to be (minimum) 15 feet from the curb and 100 feet from a corner intersection. There are also limits to the total number of square feet of signage an individual property can display.
So, that whole row of signs strategically lined up across from the Board of Education building on Route 108? The majority of those are illegally placed, too close to the road. The sign which is almost directly on River Hill High School property, giving the appearance that the candidate has been endorsed by the school? Illegal. And that one was removed by the school after community complaints and then inexplicably replaced by the candidate's campaign.
That's determination, all right.
Perhaps there's a comfortable sense of easy inevitability that comes with being an incumbent in this race. Dr. Siddiqui, with widespread local name recognition and an ample campaign war chest, may think that this election will be no different than the others that have come before it. I'm not so sure. If ever a campaign had "anti-incumbent" written all over it, it would be this one.
What kind of a message does it send for a candidate to ignore the most basic regulations for political campaigning? Does it say "responsive" to you? Does it speak to integrity or accountability? I think not. It clearly says, "the rules don't apply to me." Winning the campaign sign wars by breaking all the rules may not be a slap in the face to every Howard County voter, but it's definitely a poke in the eye.
I don't much like it.