Electors in the dark?

A PROPOSED ban on illuminated election campaign signage in Fremantle will simply protect incumbents, says unsuccessful mayoral candidate Ra Stewart.

At this week’s finance and policy committee meeting, an amendment to the council’s Electoral Activities and Signage Policy was approved for advertising which would give the council authority to seize illuminated signs. Ms Stewart used trailer-mounted signs in the last election and said she received just one complaint about taking up a parking bay on Marine Terrace. She didn’t hear a peep from the council, though when she’d applied it ruled out placing one on Leach Highway.

Attack

“I feel this move is a form of censorship, and a deliberate attack on our freedom of speech,” Ms Stewart told the Herald.

“One might well question the timing of this with the South Ward election coming up March 16, and why this is a priority when there are significant issues around Arthur Head and Sunset Events, Market Street piazza, anti-social behaviour and parking.

“Given the inequities associated with mounting a campaign against incumbent candidates, and the advantages incumbents have in regards to promoting their position, activities, etc via council websites, social channels and media coverage, an illuminated sign seems like a reasonable way of informing the electorate of an alternative candidate.”

Ms Stewart said it was difficult to tell mayor Brad Pettitt’s formal activities with his campaign during the election, with Facebook posts appearing on both his mayoral and campaign pages.

“At one point he was promoting the sale of his campaign t-shirts on his mayoral page,” Ms Stewart says.

by STEVE GRANT

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