Janet Rowland jumps the gun on campaign yard signs

Sign codes are for other politicians, right? A Grand Junction city sign code says political signs cannot be posted more than 60 days prior to an election. However, that rule was overlooked when Republican Mesa commissioner Janet Rowland put her re-election signs up several weeks too early. Rowland admits she’s breaking the rules, but no one at city hall seems to care.

First elected county commissioner in 2004, Rowland was Bob Beauprez’s running mate when he ran for governor in 2006. That year, she also made the news when she complained about gay marriage rights. "For some, bestiality is an alternative lifestyle," she said on a television show. "Do we allow a man to marry a sheep?" More recently she and the other two Mesa County commissioners joined a successful lawsuit to unfreeze mill levy taxes that Democratic Gov. Bill Ritter wanted to help raise money for public schools. 

This year, Rowland faces a Republican primary challenge from Mesa County resident David Kearsley. The sign controversy popped up after Rowland’s campaign scattered about 180 yard signs and erected 10 huge billboards around town last month. And, while June 12 actually marks the 60-day window for the Aug. 12 primary election, Rowland reportedly thought the regulation specified 90 days.

Last week, the Grand Junction Free Press reported that Grand Junction officials told Rowland to remove her illegal signs. Further complicating matters, Grand Junction Sentinel editorial page editor Bob Silbernagel weighed in that the Free Press story was wrong. Since no one formally complained to city officials about the signs, he wrote in Sunday’s paper, the city did not ask Rowland to get rid of the campaign signs. Silbernagel also said "that it might be time to rethink the regulations," noting that if Rowland wins the Republican nomination on Aug. 12, she would have to go through the hassle to take down her signs until Sept. 5, 60 days before the Nov. 4 general election. 

At least one Grand Junction resident was upset to see Rowland ignore the city’s campaign sign code. Joseph Breman wrote this in a letter to the editor published in Sunday’s Sentinel: "Rowland is the only current candidate in clear violation of the rules — and she is currently holding public office. Why is she above the law?"

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Leslie Robinson

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