Campaign signs, mailer added to council election issues
by Jeff Switzer
During the Woodinville City Council race, the issue of oversized campaign signs reared its head and sent the city into action.
The city issued notices to the property owners and candidates regarding nine signs, giving them a time frame to take the signs down or bring them into compliance with the city's ordinance.
According to City Manager Joe Meneghini, two signs were posted on public right-of-way and were removed by the city.
The city's ordinance, adopted Feb. 13, 1995, limits the size of campaign signs displayed on private property to four square feet.
The signs throughout Woodinville posted by the Friends of Woodinville were found to be in violation of the sign ordinance, measuring 32 square feet.
The notion of "tiling" was brought to the City Attorney's office before the city met with two representatives from the Friends of Woodinville, John Corrado and Tim Matson.
Dawn Findlay, of the City Attorney's office, said the proposed "tiling" concept complied with the ordinance, and subsequently, the signs within the city limits were cut into eight separate pieces and reassembled.
Joe Wallis, city planner, said he was concerned that a publication mailed by the Friends of Woodinville gave the impression that the city catered to the group
A statement in the mailing reads: "We admit that the signs were in violation of the Woodinville sign code. Once we found out the signs were illegal, we sat down with the city and worked out a legal solution."
"It sounds like they were in cahoots with the City of Woodinville," Wallis said.
He reiterated that the notion of tiling was brought to the city attorney between the time the candidates and the property owners were sent notices and when Matson and Corrado met with him.
The Friends of Woodinville
Prior to the general election, residents of Woodinville received a mailing from a group known as the Friends of Woodinville, endorsing Walter Backstrom, Carol Bogue and Scott Hageman
The group also rented a billboard and placed signs throughout the city in support of the three candidates.
Two members of the group are well-known locally, real estate agent John Corrado and lobbyist Tim Matson, Mayor Lucy DeYoung's husband.
According to Matson, who agreed to act as spokesperson, the Friends of Woodinville are a loosely-organized group of 10 to 12 people who got together specifically to help the candidates during the election.
"Woodinville needs to have more forums and public debates than we've had," Matson said.
"It has become impractical for candidates to raise the amount of money needed for a mailer," he said. "We wanted to help out those people running for city council."
Matson added that by contributing to the campaigns and helping get the word out, more people are involved in and engaged with the political process.
He said the spirited and contentious campaign was good for the community, as people begin to understand the importance of the issues and realize they have an opportunity to decide who's going to govern the city.
When asked if the group plans on continuing as an organization, Matson said he doesn't know, though there has been some consideration of that issue.
"If Solberg and Engel manage to survive the recounts, we might have the incentive to continue as a group," he said.