Sophia Scherman is running for city office in Elk Grove for the fourth time, and recently ran into a campaign rule she had never heard about: the wording on her campaign signs was too big.
Scherman, a city council member running for mayor, said at Wednesday's city council meeting that she spent $1,000 to reprint 28 campaign signs after the city's Code Enforcement department received a complaint.
"This is kind of ludicrous," said current Mayor Jim Cooper, who has sat on the council with Scherman since the city incorporated in 2000. "Who thinks this stuff up?"
Scherman said she needed help from the city's code enforcement department to find the allowable message size.
"It takes an engineer to figure it out," she said.
Scherman said she replaced her signs to avoid a fine, and in the process learned that property owners who are displaying an out-of-compliance sign can also be fined. She asked the city council to discuss changing that policy and the city's campaign sign ordinance, but council members said it wouldn't be fair to change the laws with the November election so soon.
While they didn't favor a change to the law, each council member who weighed in said the city shouldn't penalize property owners who unknowingly display an illegal campaign sign. City staff will bring a resolution stating that before the council in a future meeting.
Council Member Gary Davis, who is also running for mayor, said he felt too closely connected to the issue to give his input, prompting Cooper to joke, "Are your signs illegal?"