Say what you want about Bill Russ’ prospects of becoming the next Cook County commissioner for the 16th District, his complaints about campaign signs popping up all over the area for his opponent, Jeffrey Tobolski, are right on the money.
Russ is running against Tobolski as a Democrat in the February primary for the privilege of running against, we’re assuming, incumbent Republican Tony Peraica. Of course, we here in Landmark Land would love to see a Russ-Peraica matchup for the local flavor it would give the race.
But Tobolski has a war chest many times the size of Russ’, and judging by the number of campaign signs that have been plastered in McCook and elsewhere, it appears that Tobolski probably has the organization to get out the vote.
Regardless, that doesn’t mean he should be able to flout village ordinances – in his hometown and elsewhere – in order to get that done. Tobolski signs have already been taken down in Brookfield, which has a law on the books stating that campaign signs are only allowed within 30 days of an election and only on private property.
McCook has the same law on its books, yet officials there appear to have no idea where to find it.
In a letter dated Dec. 4 from McCook’s police chief answering Russ’ complaint about the signs, Frank Wolfe thanked Russ for pointing out the citation in the village code, saying “the ordinance book is rather large and you helped me get right to the pages of the book that needed to be researched.”
Of course, it takes about 30 seconds to find the citation on that wonderful invention called the Internet, where McCook’s book of ordinances is helpfully available.
After being directed to the citation, however, the chief wrote to Russ that no one’s ever enforced the code as far as he knows.
Now, we don’t know what elections are like in McCook, but typically campaign signs are a touchy issue where there are contested races, which is why those pesky campaign sign laws were written in the first place.
Tobolski’s signs have been visible within McCook, where Tobolski is mayor and where his father was mayor before him, for months. As a local political candidate, you’d think Tobolski would know about campaign sign laws.
A spokesman for the Tobolski campaign told the Landmark that the village attorney – who serves at the pleasure of the village board of which Tobolski is the top dog – said it was fine to put up the signs. Nice.
Meanwhile, the police chief is doing an all-out research project on the matter, according to the letter he wrote to Russ. When done, he’ll “channel my recommendations through the proper chain of command.” That chain, we’re guessing, includes his boss, the mayor, the candidate.
Well, at least we would hope other towns with sign ordinances will enforce them, to keep campaign-weary voters from having to endure these political advertisements any longer than they have to.