Rockville Centre officials responded to residents’ concerns on the eve of Election Day after a village employee was caught on camera removing a campaign sign posted on the grass between the sidewalk and the street.
Homeowner Richie Montonez shared the surveillance footage taken in front of his house last week with News12. The signs supported Democratic state assembly candidate Judy Griffin.
At the village board’s monthly meeting on Nov. 5, Village Attorney A. Thomas Levin said that the strip of lawn by the curb is village property, and therefore “when you leave something on public property, you’ve abandoned it.” He added that the sign could have instead been returned to the homeowner.
“The part that bothers me the most is that it seems political in nature,” Rockville Centre resident Brad Slover said at the meeting. “The way it’s being applied doesn’t seem that it’s across the board and fair. The fact that somebody would go and apply that ordinance to one sign — for somebody I’m probably not going to vote for, so I’m not here to defend that person — really, really bothers me.”
Slover added that he drove around the neighborhood and saw basketball hoops and pottery on curbs that are left untouched.
Mayor Murray told News 12 that it was the superintendent of the village’s building department who removed all signs from the curb strips.
Judy Griffin said in a statement that she has had an outpouring of support during her campaign, “so it’s really shocking and disappointing to see government employees taking down those signs. But it doesn’t diminish my passion for this race or for public service. As a first-time candidate I know I’m making waves, and some people don’t like that.”
Village Administrator Kathleen Murray explained that signs are not normally removed from curb strips in the neighborhoods, but that code enforcement units were responding to a complaint about the signs in that neighborhood.
“My understanding is that signs from both sides were taken down, and as soon as those people who are more politically attuned — the mayor and the board of trustees — found out, they said, ‘Don’t take any more signs, we’re going to leave them where they are as long as they’re in the neighborhoods,’” she said. “What this has brought up to all of us is that code that we’ve been relying on is not really as clear as we might want it to be.”