Southwest Ranches' campaign sign law upsets community

Mayoral candidate says permission slip is a 'violation of our political rights'

SOUTHWEST RANCHES, Fla. - A new campaign sign law in Southwest Ranches has made some residents feel like city leaders are trampling on their rights.

"I feel that it is a violation of our political rights," said mayoral candidate Holly Hugdahl.

Lily Sayre, a Hugdahl supporter, said she received a violation notice Friday, which informed her that she will be fined if she doesn't complete a permission slip that forces residents to name the candidate they are supporting for the public record.

"What are they trying to prove here? I think it's definitely intimidation," said Sayre.

"It's a question of we know that the property owner has authorized the sign on that property. That's all that is," said Andy Berns, Southwest Ranches' town manager.

Hugdahl and other residents disagreed at a town meeting Thursday night, taking the podium to express their concerns. One resident said the policy is ridiculous. Another said it was something the town needed to get rid of.

Keith Poliakoff, the town's attorney, refused to comment on the issue and walked away from Local 10's Bob Norman on camera.

"You won't talk to me about this?" Norman said.

"No," Poliakoff said.

Mayor Jeff Nelson was not at the meeting.

Dee Schroeder, an avid Nelson supporter, filed the complaint against Sayre.

"Crybabies. We got a bunch of crybabies in our town," said Schroeder.

Hugdahl said the slips could be used to target political opponents.

"It's called karma," said Schroeder.

Hugdahl said Schroeder told her what she thinks about her campaign in a voicemail.

"What you did to the homeowners was the first mistake and this is going to be your last one... I think you're a horrible little person," the recording says.

Norman asked Schroeder if she left the voicemail.

"Absolutely not," Schroeder said.

"We have the right to political expression," Hugdahl said. "We also have the right not to be harassed or discriminated against because of our political allegiance."

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