Ridin' the Rapids


April 27, 2023 | View PDF

A Letter to the Editor was going to be printed in this space. In it the writer had included these words: “On my routine drive over the Santiam Pass this weekend I was horrified at the political signage insulting my eyes and our beautiful roadway. Overdone to say the least, and totally inappropriate on our beloved scenic highway.”

During the Wooden Boat Show on Saturday, a couple of other people came up to me to express similar opinions, like “Don’t they know it’s Earth Day.”

Those reactions caused me to check in with ODOT to see what sort of regulations were involved. Basically, the agency’s role is limited to what happens within a road's right-of-way width, which generally conforms to an area where utilities place their poles. If you’d like to read more detail see ODOT’s press release about political signage on Page 9.

In my mind, the sign issue is a debatable, pretty local small-time issue. Unfortunately, the people who told me they had concerns, it was not.

At the boat show the people who wanted to talk made sure no one was close by who might hear what they were saying. The letter writer first didn’t want to sign their own name. They later asked me not to print it because they feared reprisals from hangers-on.

Now, I don’t think in either instance were the concerns directed at the school board candidates themselves. Instead, there seems to be an undercurrent in this country that warns our “free speech” ability has been severely undercut.

The letter writer said they were afraid because “so many people have guns.” Whether a local race is no longer “apolitical” has come up before. The question now, unfortunately - Is it dangerous?


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