Mesa says Pearce supporters must remove anti-recall signs - East Valley Tribune: Mesa

Mesa says Pearce supporters must remove anti-recall signs

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Russell Pearce represented Mesa in the Arizona Legislature and served as president of the state Senate.

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Posted: Wednesday, August 24, 2011 4:49 pm | Updated: 10:53 am, Wed Aug 31, 2011.

Supporters of State Senate President Russell Pearce must remove hundreds of anti-recall signs in Mesa that urge voters to "stand for the rule of law" because the signs violate election laws.

The red signs blanketed west Mesa a week ago but will be coming down in the next few days, said Christine Zielonka, Mesa's development services director. About 50 people reported the illegal signs since they appeared, she said.

"It really has gotten people's attention because there have been so darn many of them," Zielonka said. "Our approach is we don't care about the politics. We just want to make sure we have a safe city."

The signs were posted by Citizens who Oppose the Pearce Recall, whose chairman is Mesa resident Matt Tolman. They attack recall organizer Randy Parraz and ask voters to oppose the recall.

Tolman told the city on Wednesday he's working on a timeline to take down 300 signs - and that he'll repost them in a few weeks when political signs can be displayed under law, Zielonka said.

The signs violate several city and state election rules.

Political signs can only be posted 60 days before an election, which is Sept. 7.

Also, many signs are posted illegally because they're within 15 feet of a right-of-way.

None of the signs include contact information, which is also required so the city can contact organizers if there's a problem with the signs such as illegal placement.

Mesa had to use a liberal interpretation to even consider the signs election-related because they feature a person who isn't on the ballot of the Nov. 8 recall, Zielonka said.

"We've agreed that is an issue for attorneys to discuss," she said. "At this point, we're deeming them to be political signs."

Had the city considered them non-political signs, they would have been treated like illegal weight loss advertisements and thrown away, Zielonka said.

Mesa officials met with Tolman to inform him of political sign regulations. He agreed to follow them next time, she said. The city will not fine Tolman because he's agreed to remove them and the city only wants compliance, Zielonka said.

Tolman didn't return a call from the Tribune.

Parraz said signs have been spotted in Tempe, Chandler and Gilbert - communities outside of Pearce's legislative District 18. The district covers much of west Mesa, generally areas west of Gilbert Road. Parraz estimated the signs targeting him cost $30,000.

Chad Snow, another recall organizer, said the signs could justify a libel suit for their claim that Parraz opposes the rule of law. Parraz said he'll consider legal action if the signs appear again.

Parraz blasted the signs as deceitful. The signs, in part, claim Parraz and "his recall candidates" oppose the rule of law and are supported by unions that favored an Arizona boycott. Parraz said he supports the rule of law and opposed the boycott. He said he's never had contact with candidates who are running against Pearce.

The candidates are charter school executive Jerry Lewis, Mesa resident Olivia Cortes and attorney Michael Kielsky. So far, only Lewis has given the Arizona Secretary of State the 621 signatures required to get on the ballot.

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