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Campaign Signs Highlight Start of 2017 School Board Election Season

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TOMS RIVER-Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs, only this time the signs are campaign signs littered throughout the township.

Political campaign signs by Democrats and Republicans in this year’s hotly contested partisan battle for the Toms River school board appear to be taking priority over actual school board issues.

Last week, Robert DiBiase, President of the Toms River Republican Club issued a press release objecting to the early placement of campaign signs by township Democrats eager to retain control of the board.

“The Toms River Republicans will wait and avoid blighting the town with the obligatory campaign signs that our democrat antagonists decided to start 8 days earlier than the law allows,” DiBiase said in a press release last Saturday.

Now that time has expired, the blight is apparently in full motion as today, complaints were made about DiBiase’s Republican slate placing signs at the entrance to the town’s new “Protectors of Freedom” veterans memorial at Bay Lea Park.

DiBiase represents Republican candidates for Toms River School Board, Teri Kubiel (wife of Toms River Councilman and Fire Department Administrator Brian Kubiel, Al Schwartz and Ginny Rhine.

Republicans are hoping to oust the Democrats in November to regain power on the board which they lost in the wake of the Michael Ritacco corruption and bribery scandal.

Complaints about campaign signs are nothing new.  The campaign sign game has been a staple minigame within political elections in Ocean County.   Each year, candidates routinely complain about each other’s signs, block each other’s signs and often remove their opponent’s signs.

In fact, often times, the campaign sign game is more heated than the actual political campaigns they represent.

The signs depicted in the complaint appear to be on public property, which has been a grey area in campaign ethics laws in New Jersey.

According to the state of New Jersey,  no candidate or office holder, or agent or representative thereof, may solicit campaign contributions, directly or indirectly, on property owned or leased by the State, or by any county, municipality, board of education of a school, but the law doesn’t prevent soliciting of votes on public property.

The practice is often mutually considered taboo by political campaigns.

There’s a reason many call the weeks leading up to a local election, silly season.

Gavin Rozzi, editor at PoliticsOc has also been covering Signgate 2017, you can check out his stories here and here.

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