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Abilene's city ordinance regulating 'political signs' is unenforceable

Campaign signs for Abilene City Council can already be seen around Abilene for Alex Russell and Jack Rentz, but Councilman Bruce Kreitler, who is running for reelection, questioned whether they should be up.

"I wanted clarity if I am actually breaking the rules or not," said Kreitler.

He posted a message on Facebook about his concerns, which in part stated the following: "I also am not in favor of letting myself be taken advantage of. I will put out signs early (albeit reluctantly), if I think that I need to."

According to Abilene's ordinance regulating political signs in residential areas, a sign must not be posted more than 45 days prior to an election. Currently, there are more than 90 days until the Abilene City Council election takes place.

However, Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna stated that candidates can go ahead and put up their campaign signs.

"We had an ordinance that regulates the time the campaign signs can go out and that part of the ordinance was overturned by the Supreme Court, it's no longer effective," said Hanna.

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling that restricts the ability of local, state and federal governments to regulate political signs.

KTXS News spoke with Kreitler's opponents, Alex Russell and Jack Rentz about the campaign sign controversy. Both of them already had signs up and were aware of the Supreme Court's ruling.

"I went through it last year, so I had to be sure. So yeah, of course I knew about it going into this year. " said Russell.

"Yes, we knew, my people helping me already had researched it, we know that it was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in 2015, so we put them out," said Rentz.

However, Kreitler waited until the city sent a news release Tuesday afternoon saying the ordinance would not be enforced.

"I had waited until I got it officially even though I was aware that they probably weren't going to enforce the ordinance," Kreitler said.

Hanna said the city is working to change the ordinance to clear up any confusion about it.

"We've been working on our sign ordinance for a long time and we are still in the process of tweaking some of the language to be compliant with the court's orders," said Hanna.

The city also said unless a sign is obstructing the view of motorist or implies the city is endorsing a candidate, they have left campaign signs alone for the most part.

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