According to Town of West Seneca Building Inspector William Czuprynski, it's about time the town started enforcing a policy prohibiting political signs on public property or vacant lots.
According to William Malczewski, a candidate for supervisor, the timing is a matter of politics, since Malczewski is the only town-level candidate with signs out for Tuesday's primary elections.
"The only guys who've got to run this primary, other than (county executive candidates) Joel Giambra and Jeff Baran are Malczewski and Para. How convenient that this letter comes out now," said Malczewski. "The unfairness about the signs, I think it's dangerous to our campaign to bring this out at this time."
Malczewski will face Adrian J. Para, who has done little as far as signs, in the primary for the right to oppose incumbent Democrat Paul T. Clark in November's general election.
Czuprynski sent a letter dated Aug. 31 to political candidates, saying that all signs must be on private property, must not obstruct views from intersections or driveways and must be maintained. It said any sign not meeting such criteria would be removed by the West Seneca Highway Department, starting after Sept. 6.
Czuprynski said he decided the policy needed to be enforced because of increased use of signs in West Seneca.
"It just looked like they had been getting carried away," Czuprynski said. "Giambra's signs are 4 feet by 8 feet, Gorski's are 4 by 4. A lot of them are blocking views of things."
"I'm not against political signs. They'll always be there," he said. "A political sign means something when it's on someone's own property, but when they're put along an expressway, up the side of a ravine, it doesn't mean anything."
He said he had received no pressure from other officials to start enforcing the policy. In previous elections, signs were frequently placed on otherwise vacant public property.
"I wouldn't have (started enforcing the code) if I had prompting from somebody," he said. "I have nothing to gain or lose by enforcing it. I'm not a Democrat or Republican, I'm a Conservative. I think the people of the Town of West Seneca will be happy with it. One person's complaining. Otherwise everybody agrees with it. . . . Maybe it should have been done years ago."
The town code says simply, "Nothing . . . shall be so construed as regulating, except as to size, political signs," but limitations on the signs may be included in other rules, such as highway law.
Malczewski said he supports the spirit of the policy but questions the timing of the enforcement. He said that between recent political ads attacking him (submitted by Councilman Jerry Hicks) and the sudden enforcement of the signs policy, he's beginning to believe Clark is already targeting him -- despite Czuprynski's and Hicks' denials that the supervisor had any involvement.
"I think it's an unprecedented attempt by the opponent to subvert an election," he said. "And the thing that really gets me is I'm not running against Clark, I'm running against Para. I've got enough to do in beating the endorsed Republican candidate."
"Mr. Czuprynski, as far as I know, consulted with no one," said Clark. "When Bill Czuprynski sent the memos around, I called him and he said, 'Other towns are doing it . . . we probably should have done it last year, but we didn't have any races.'
"I didn't want to have any input because I'm running this year, too."