(The opinions and views expressed in the commentaries of The Somerville News belong solely to the authors of those commentaries and  do not reflect the views or opinions of The Somerville News, its staff  or publishers)

Most people think that elections are too expensive and often too divisive, especially on a local level. I agree. This belief leads me to make a suggestion that minimizes divisions within our community, respects our neighborhoods, and reduces the cost of elections.

LET’S ELIMINATE YARD SIGNS! And house signs too. Here is why…

• Yard signs are often the spark that divides neighbors – sometimes neighbors who live in the same house.

• They are often put up by absentee landlords who cannot vote in Somerville. This is particularly troubling when the tenants, who do vote in Somerville, support another candidate.

• Yard signs contribute to urban visual blight – I think we have enough street signs already!

• Some signs stay up for months after the election, especially those on houses owned by absentee landlords.

• They are expensive – thereby increasing the cost of running for office and discouraging more people from seeking office.

• Yard signs are often the subject of vandalism either by misguided supporters or someone looking to make the opposing candidate look bad (the media has reported that this has already happened during this election in other parts of Somerville).  This leads to more divisiveness and diminishes the reputation of the city as a welcoming community.

I have sent my proposal to all candidates in Ward 7 and I hope we can all agree to it.  Maybe we can get the citywide candidates to follow our lead in Ward 7, then maybe across the entire city.

For my part, I will refrain from putting up any yard or house signs while I wait for other Ward 7 candidates to consider this proposal.  If all other candidates refuse this proposal, I will reconsider my approach. I want to make Somerville a better place, but I have an obligation to my supporters to compete on a level playing field.

We all have friends who want to show their support, but there are other, better ways to do it – stickers on cars and have our supporters contact their friends and family. After all, campaigns are supposed to be about ideas and bringing people together – not dividing neighbors.

I want to bring neighbors together. I want to reduce visual blight in Somerville. I want to reduce the cost of campaigning so that more people may run for office. I encourage all candidates to join me in this effort to raise campaigning in Somerville to a higher level and to remove one more excuse to divide our community.

Joseph Capuano

Candidate for Ward 7 Alderman


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