Municipal election season starts next week
by CHRIS NORWOOD
Jun 28, 2011 | 3543 views |  6 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
TALLADEGA — The 2011 municipal election season kicks off in the city next week, and campaign signs are already beginning to pop up. Votes will be cast for mayor, all five City Council seats and all five positions on the city Board of Education.

Qualifying opens July 5 and lasts until July 19. Statements of candidacy can be filed at the city clerk’s office on the main floor of City Hall, 203 South St.

The general election will be Aug. 23, with a runoff on Sept. 13, if necessary. Newly elected officials will take office Oct. 3.

To be eligible, the candidate must be at least 18 years old and candidates for council and school board positions must have lived in their wards for at least 90 days. Candidates for mayor must have lived in the city limits for at least 90 days. Candidates must “retain the permanent residency for the entire length of their term if they are elected,” according to an information packet provided the candidates by the city. Candidates also must be United States citizens for at least one day prior to the election.

When filing at City Hall, candidates will also have to fill out a statement of economic interest and pay a $50 filing fee. Failure to complete the economic disclosure form when filing for candidacy will result in the candidate’s name not appearing on the ballot.

A sample form and line-by-line instructions are included in the city packet.

Additional financial disclosures are also required under state law. All candidates must file an Appointment of Principal Campaign Committee form, even if the candidate is the committee, which is common. This form must be filed within five days of raising or spending $1,000. This form is filed with the Talladega County Probate Office.

Candidates who have reached the $1,000 mark must file contribution/expenditure reports 50 to 45 days and 10 to five days before the election.

The original reports must be filed with the probate office, so they must be either hand delivered or sent through the mail. They cannot be faxed.

Campaign funds may only be used to influence the outcome of an election, pay off campaign debt and cover expenses associated with challenged election outcomes. Leftover funds can be used for expenditures of the campaign, expenditures reasonably relating to the office (but not the candidate personally), donations to state or local general or education funds, tax exempt organizations and inaugural or transitional expenses.

Advertising must be clearly identified as such, and the person or committee paying for the ad must be identified.

Although most of the above requirements and procedures are drawn from state or federal law, the ordinance governing campaign signs was passed by the City Council.

Political signs do not require a permit in Talladega, like most other signs do, but there are requirements. Residents are allowed one sign per lot, not to exceed 32 square feet. Signs cannot be placed more than 60 days before the election and must be removed no later than five days afterward. Political signs can only be placed on private property and only with the written permission of the property owner.

This means that political signs cannot be placed between a sidewalk and a roadway or any other city right of way. Power poles and telephone poles are also off limits.

Contact Chris Norwood at cnorwood@dailyhome.com.