Complaints lead to Hope Mills officials suspending ordinance against campaign signs in yards

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HOPE MILLS, N.C. (WNCN) – Government officials went on private property to take down election signs in Hope Mills.

“I feel it was a violation of my First Amendment right,” said Hope Mills resident Billy Terry.

The Hope Mills sign ordinance states campaign signs have to be placed 15 feet away from the edge of the pavement.

Terry is running for town commissioner. He moved his campaign sign back to the front of his yard.

“What a person does in his own yard is their business,” Terry said.

He said his signs were removed from his yard during a “sign sweep” by town staff on Friday.

“I always put campaign posters up for everybody,” he said. “Never had a problem until this time.”

Terry, as well as several other residents who also had election signs removed from their yards, spoke passionately to town commissioners Monday night.

“As far as I’m concerned, I considered it larceny,” Terry said

Hope Mills Mayor Jackie Warner said town staff removed 72 signs Friday, including some of her campaign signs. They brought them back to the town hall to be picked up by the candidates or residents if they wanted them back. The town staff sent several emails warning people to follow the ordinance or the signs would be removed.

“The people that I talked to that my signs were taken out of their yards were furious because you went on private property,” Warner said. “It’s just a shame that we are making the news over something like signs.”

“This was the most ludicrous and ridiculous thing that I’ve ever heard of,” Terry added.

Terry said he’s happy commissioners listened to residents and voted to temporarily suspend the sign ordinance during this election season.

This means people can put election signs wherever they want on their property.

Warner said the ordinance will be evaluated moving forward.

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