In one of the most hotly contested races of the primary election season, the biggest issue isn’t oil taxes or coastal zone management, but a running debate over the placement of political signs in the Eagle River area.
For better or worse, the race to win the Republican nomination in House District 26 appears to be coming down to a battle over who can place as many signs in as many areas around Eagle River — leading to claims that municipal and state regulations are being violated in the process.
“In my mind, I believe we ought to honor the municipal code,” said Larry Wood, who is running against Lora Reinbold and Kim Skipper in the Aug. 28 primary.
According to Section 21.47 of the Anchorage Administrative Code, the maximum size sign allowed in residential areas is six square feet and limited to two signs. Wood said a couple Reinbold signs outside homes along Eagle River Road appear to violate the code. Wood said he tried to discuss the issue of signs with Reinbold earlier in the campaign, but got no response.
“She turned her back on me,” he said.
On Monday, Reinbold refused to answer questions for this story, saying she would only respond to questions on the topic via email and that she would rather discuss a recent Eagle River trails project she was involved with.
“I’m extremely busy,” she said.
Last week, Reinbold claimed that one of her large roadside signs had been vandalized, and brought in a photo of a youth who appeared to be defacing a Reinbold sign. Reinbold refused to allow the Star to publish the photo. When asked why she hadn’t taken the matter to the police, Reinbold refused to comment. She said she would not disclose how many cameras she’s placed near her signs, but confirmed there was at least one.
Skipper said she has refused to place large signs in residential areas, preferring to put those signs in business districts.
“All of my big signs are not in residential areas,” she said.
All three candidates have claimed their signs have been vandalized during the campaign season.
“It’s unsettling that people would go that far to do that kind of thing,” Skipper said.
Earlier this month, Wood’s campaign team noticed that two Reinbold signs had been sandwiched around a Wood sign along the Old Glenn Highway in Eagle River. When Reinbold was told of the action, she said she immediately removed the signs herself. Reinbold said she had permission from the property owner to place signs there, but didn’t know who had placed the signs around Wood’s. When asked if she would punish the person who had — if she discovered who it was — Reinbold said it would depend on the circumstances.
Skipper, too, found herself removing signs — in her own Eaglewood neighborhood. She said she got a call one night telling her the neighborhood’s own bylaws stated no signs could be up until 30 days before the election.
“I jumped out of bed,” to remove the signs, she said.
Skipper said arguments over signs is something that “comes with the territory” of running a campaign. Ultimately, she said, she would rather talk about other issues.
“There’s bigger fish to fry out there,” she said.
The candidates for District 26 will get a chance to do just that tonight when they join candidates for area House and Senate seats at a forum at the Eagle River Lions Club. The event — which is being co-sponsored by the Sleeping Lady Mountain Lions, the Chugiak-Eagle River Chamber and the Eagle River Area Rotary Club — begins at 6 p.m. and is open to the public.
Contact Matt Tunseth at 694-2727 or [email protected].