Encinitas Council campaign signs pop up early

Encinitas Council campaign signs pop up early
Joseph Corder looks at campaign signs for City Council candidates Jerome Stocks and Mark Muir located just in front of Encinitas Ford at the corner of Encinitas Blvd. and El Camino Real. Corder has video showing the two candidates, along with an unidentified man, installing the signs in the evening on Oct. 5, in violation of the city's ordinance requiring signs to be diplayed no earlier than 30-days prior to an election. With 31 days in the month of October, the opening day for sign display is Oct. 7. Photo by Wehtahnah Tucker

ENCINITAS — Campaign signs from five Encinitas City Council candidates went up before they legally should have, sparking a closer look at the city’s municipal code. 

According to municipal code, Council campaign signs “may be displayed 30 days prior to the election.” That means Council signs weren’t supposed to be posted before Oct. 7 at 12:01 a.m., according to city staff.

The controversy began when two incumbent Council members seeking reelection, Mayor Jerome Stocks and Councilman Mark Muir, were captured on video posting signs early.

Encinitas resident Joe Corder took the video, showing Stocks and Muir installing their own campaign signs together Oct. 5 at 10:15 p.m. at the Encinitas Ford Dealership along Encinitas Boulevard.

Corder filmed the two again approximately 45 minutes later placing signs at a storage facility on Olivehain Road, where he asked the candidates to remove the signs. The candidates declined and requested Corder to leave.

Earlier that day, Corder had seen two of Stocks’ campaign signs near the Shell gas station on Encinitas Boulevard and El Camino Real. Struck that he hadn’t seen other campaign signs, he consulted the city’s website to review the policy on campaign signs. He snapped a photo of Stocks’ campaign signs at 6:33 p.m. A time stamp from his camera confirmed the claim.

Later that night, Corder said he saw about 20 more signs for Stocks on El Camino Real between Santa Fe Road and Encinitas Boulevard, which prompted him to file an incident report regarding the campaign signs going up too soon with the Sheriff’s Department at 9:30 p.m.

“It didn’t seem fair that his campaign signs were out there,” Corder said.

Corder then happened to see Stocks and Muir posting signs, so he trailed them and shot the two videos.

Muir said he thought the city’s municipal code indicated the signs could be placed Saturday, but noted, “There was some confusion there.”

“I saw other candidates’ signs before then,” Muir said, adding that those campaigns had not received as much scrutiny.

He posted his signs Friday night, which he believed was only a bit early, “to avoid traffic and safety issues.”

“There are bigger issues than signs,” Muir said.

According to City Code Enforcement Manager Joan Kling, the signs shouldn’t have been placed before Oct. 7.

During election season, the city removes, or “sweeps,” campaign signs that are posted early or in the public right of way, according to Kling. During the most recent sweep last Thursday, the city picked up 10 illegally placed signs, none of which were from an Encinitas Council candidate.

Although still under review, Kling said fines will not be levied toward any Council campaigns at this time.

Candidates would receive fines of $100 for the first incident in posting signs early, $200 for the second incident and $500 for the third and any subsequent incidents.

In an email response, Stocks said he was only out an “hour or two” early, arguing “the code says 30 days BEFORE the election, not 30 days from the election.”

“I contend that means 30 days from the 5th, which would be October 6 at 12:01 a.m.,” Stocks said in the email.

He added that, “the furor is much ado about nothing,” and declined follow-up questions.

As of Monday afternoon, Kling said citizens had sent two written complaints that Council candidates’ signs were placed early. One complaint cited Stocks and Muir, while the other named candidate Lisa Shaffer.

Shaffer acknowledged some of her signs went up prior to the deadline. She said she distributed her signs to supporters over the last month at campaign rallies, but with specific instructions that they shouldn’t go out until Oct. 7.

“I did everything to communicate that,” Shaffer said.

Tony Kranz, too, admitted his signs made an appearance before the official start date. On Thursday morning and afternoon, he saw his signs at two spots along Leucadia Boulevard, but “quickly took them down.”

Calling it “very mysterious,” Kranz said signs were taken from his unlocked garage and placed at the two spots without his knowledge, a possible attempt to put him in a bad light, he said.

Further, he said there was a “false equivalence” between candidates who intentionally posted signs before the start date and those whose signs had been unknowingly placed.

“I’m looking forward to talking about the issues again,” Kranz said in a later interview.

Reportedly, one of candidate Bryan Ziegler’s signs was on Saxony Road and Encinitas Boulevard as early as Friday. Ziegler said he wasn’t aware that Sunday was the earliest signs could go up, and couldn’t recall exactly when his signs were placed.

He said, “It’s possible the signs went up early.” If they did, it would have “only been a handful at most,” he added.

There are nine candidates seeking three Council seats, according to the city’s website.

 

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  1. Esteban Llaves says:

    The elephant in the room here that is being overlooked is not so much that the letter of the law has been overlooked, as goes these sign placements: It is that Jerome Stocks has helped to create one of the most toxic city council groups in the 26-year history of Encinitas. I have never witnessed as much bad will in our beautiful Encinitas. Or a mayor who holds his constituency in such low esteem. It is terrible.

    Granted, there are always going to be some in a community with differences of opinion, but bona fide community leaders ought to engender respect from their constituents, in the aggregate. This is not the case with this current mayor. We thank you for your efforts over these many years, Mr. Stocks, but really, that was then and this is now. Time for you to step aside. No more divisiveness. We need fresh air in this city council.

    Have a nice day.

  2. The Truth says:

    I appreciate that Joe Corder had the courage to tell the truth and to apologize to Teresa Barth.

    There are stories abound about Stocks sending various minions to intimidate citiens, other council members, or anyone else who he sees as a threat. He has some make up lies and print them in different local publications to rewrite history or sway opinion.

    Stocks is supposed to be leading a local city government, not the Mafia.

  3. mark scoular says:

    Interesting that the Stocks signs say “Law Enforcement’s Choice” however he chooses to thumb his nose at the law. He and Muir must feel there is no risk to them since they control the Council.

  4. Who Posted Danon's Signs? says:

    Jerome Stocks claims that since he was within the law within 26 hours that there should be no consequences to his documented, illegal campaign activity.

    The truth is that Steve Danon’s signs have been up for weeks in other, well chosen, prime locations. Who put those huge Danon signs in the best spots a few weeks ago.

    Could it have been Danon’s campaign manager, Jerome Stocks? If so, Stocks is not being truthful that this is a one time offense. If it was not Stocks, he is not very aware of his job since as campaign manager for Danon, he should have watched his back and made sure that Danon was following the City code.

    The good news for us is that by associating himself with Stocks, Danon will lose.

  5. Only in Encinitas.. says:

    So much hullabaloo because they put up signs 2 days prior..You whiners need to find something constructive to do. There are so many good causes out there that need *urgent*attention–and you choose to drown yourselves in a glass of water over some small city council? Encinitas is fine. If you want to take out crooks start looking in every single city council and school board in the country–now there’s a cause..Then move up to state and federal–but to bury your head like an ostrich over a small city like Encinitas??! Wake up.

  6. City for Sale says:

    Only in Encinitas do you have a Mayor who proudly boasts of getting “near new kitchen appliances” in exchange for giving the appliance store owner a piece of public property.

    Our council and city employees are so morally bankrupt that they lie and exchange secret favors all the time. Enough is enough. We are looking for models of good behavior and personal ethics. The city employees look worse and worse as time goes on.

    Kranz, Shaffer and Yost for Council!

  7. Lynn Marr says:

    Outgoing Mayor Jerome Stocks, in his flagrant disregard for the letter of the law, demonstrates he thinks he is the law, & therefore above it. The issue of campaign sign law is not about hours or days; it’s about Stocks’ hypocrisy in his lack of respect for the public trust, for our Constitutional & common law rights, our property rights: our right to pursue happiness while causing no harm.

    Stocks appears to think he can break the law with impunity, going so far as to say at the Forum on Tuesday that Encinitas Municipal Code is not law! The ordinances which comprise EMC are city law, & can have the repercussions of a fine or charges of a misdemeanor violation, if someone is found guilty of violating one or more of them.

    Like former outgoing, convicted ex Mayor Dan Dalager, before him, Stocks has been talking out of both sides of his mouth. With one face he calls for decorum, while the other side threatens us with the “big guns” of a bully, who disregards, disrespects and attempts to devalue the voice of the community as we ask our representatives to stand for truth and our freedom to enjoy & be grateful for our quality of life.

    Stocks has been a bully in his arrogance & contempt for “detractors.” We know how he avoids eye contact with those of us with whom he disagrees , when we speak from the dais at Council Meetings. We know how he threatens to eject members of the public for allegedly not obeying his rules, yet, now, he asks us to put our trust in him by voting for him! No way!

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