This is the season when the leaves fall and the political campaign signs rise up -- even in places they’re not supposed to.
Sometime in the last several weeks a fan of Rep. Bill Pascrell, who is running for Congress from the 9th District, has planted Pascrell signs along Rt. 21 North and South, from just north of the Newark line all the way up to Clifton -- and right through Belleville and Nutley’s stretch of the roadway.
Political campaign signs, however, are not allowed on state highway property, said Tim Greeley, a spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Transportation.
“If it’s along a state highway right-of-way, that would require a permit, and no permits exist for those types of signs,” Greeley said.
He added that removing the signs is not “a high priority” unless they obstruct a view or pose some other sort of other safety hazard. The Pascrell signs along 21 are the small ones usually placed in front lawns and don’t appear to present such a hazard.
“We remove them as we can, with the same crews that remove graffiti,” Greeley said. “There’s a priority list of maintenance operations they handle.”
During virtually every election involving Nutley and Belleville - whether for school board, town government or state Legislature -- at least one campaign posts signs along the well-trafficked highway, guaranteeing a bit more exposure for the candidate among motorists heading home.
Keith Furlong, a spokesman for the Pascrell campaign, initially expressed surprise someone had placed the signs in Belleville and Nutley. Although the Democrat had long represented the two towns, following redistricting last year, Belleville and Nutley are now in different congressional districts -- Belleville remaining in the 8th and Nutley in the 11th. Pascrell does not appear on the ballot in either town for next month’s election.
Towns in southern Bergen County, just across the Passaic River from Nutley, are now in Pascrell’s district, however.
Furlong added that the campaign did not authorize anyone to place the signs along 21. Instead, he speculated they may have been placed there by an overzealous supporter.
“It’s election season. There’s a lot of excitement for Congressman Pascrell and his fight for middle class values,” Furlong said. “I think that’s why you’re seeing the signs.”