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Businessman Tim Holden files his candidacy to run against St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman.

Kevin Duchschere, Star Tribune

St. Paul beat: Watching the signs of the mayoral campaign

  • Article by: Kevin Duchschere
  • Star Tribune
  • October 4, 2013 - 11:50 PM

A political campaign rarely goes by without some fracas over yard signs, and St. Paul’s mayoral race doesn’t disappoint.

In fact, Tim Holden has given the brouhaha a name: “Chris Coleman’s Sign-Gate.”

And that was before St. Paul police filed nine reports about Holden signs being posted illegally on public property.

“They’re trying to make it difficult for our signs to get out there,” Holden said.

Holden, 44, is the most active of the three candidates challenging Coleman’s bid for a third term as mayor. A businessman and landlord, Holden wants to open up new lines of communication between citizens and City Hall, create more jobs and halt subsidized projects such as the downtown Saints ballpark.

Lacking money and name recognition, his campaign has plastered his signs all over town, including places where city code forbids them — medians and other public rights of way.

The police wrote reports on several signs near ramps in the Interstate 94 corridor, a couple near Interstate 35E on W. 7th Street and one off Pierce Butler Route.

Matt Freeman, manager of the Coleman campaign, said that the police remove signs only in response to complaints but that none had come from them. As for his own team, Freeman said there have been no reports of sign violations. “We have worked hard to make sure ours were placed correctly,” he said.

Holden acknowledges that some signs were illegally placed, attributing it to bad information the campaign got from the city as well as his volunteers’ eagerness to get his name out. The wrongly placed signs have been taken down, he said, and his campaign hasn’t been cited.

On the other hand, he said, dozens of his signs have disappeared from private property, including his own yard. City officials made him take down an overpass banner, and a zoning inspector made him move a car bedecked with his signs from a private lot across the street from the State Fair.

“They’re putting a lot of attention on us because we’re giving them something to think about,” Holden said.

Maybe. Clearly, he’s also giving the city a lot to do.

© 2014 Star Tribune