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Avella Wants Tougher Penalties for Illegal Campaign Sign Violations

State senator says Board of Elections should be able to remove candidates' names from the ballot if they have not paid fines.

State Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, is calling for the city to refuse petitions for would-be candidates who have outstanding violations for illegal campaign signs.

The senator says he will introduce a bill that would enhance the city Department of Sanitation’s ability to collect delinquent fines from candidates who have received violations for placing campaign signs on public property.

“I find it unconscionable when candidates run for elected office to become law and policy makers and are unable to follow the simplest of ordinances and unwilling to pay the consequences,” Avella said. “A candidate should be in control of their campaign and volunteers and that means owning up to whatever mistakes and penalties that may occur.”

He said the city’s Board of Elections should be able to deny a candidate’s presence on the ballot until election-related fines are paid from previous campaigns.

He cited recent campaigns by mayoral candidate Bill Thompson and City Comptroller John Liu that were fined for sign violations.

Frank Skala, president of the East Bayside Homeowners Association, said most northeast Queens candidates do not place illegal signs in the community. He said most of the local violators have been citywide campaigns.

“If you see someone with illegal signs, they should immediately have their name removed from the ballot,” he said. “We’ve kept their feet to the fire locally by telling them we’d denounce them if they put up illegal signs. Once an election is over, the signs become garbage.”

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