Election slide show: what do the mayoral front-runners’ lawn signs say about them?

Election slide show: what do the mayoral front-runners’ lawn signs say about them?

With September mostly done, the city is finally seeing the arrival of that most invasive of electoral species: the lawn sign. The five leading candidates have all finalized their designs, and they are underwhelming at best. As with the campaigns themselves, the signs betray a lack of clear focus or defining idea. Still, the signs each say some different things about the campaigns they represent. Here, our take on what each sign means for each campaign »

George Smitherman: The different letter widths—emphasizing the words “Mayor George”—come as close to saying “incumbent” as election laws allow.  But the thinner font used for “Smitherman” underneath gives the impression of a top-heavy building on a too-small foundation, as if the campaign were crumbling from below. The colour makes us think the campaign has had its “Tories for George” letter in the bag for some time.

Sarah Thomson: Simple, direct. Nothing particularly clever about it, but that just means nothing to backfire. Note the sign has a URL but no phone number (hey, it’s 2010—why not?). The light blue nicely evokes the pie-in-the-sky policies that Thomson has made her signature. All it’s missing is a picture of a subway train.

Rob Ford: The campaign only has one note, but it’s a note voters can’t seem to get enough of—why not play it loud and clear? “Respect for taxpayers.” Unlike the other campaigns, Ford’s is so sure voters will know who they’re talking about that they didn’t bother to include the candidate’s first name. The red, white and blue colour scheme is a bit much—tax revolt, tea party, we get it—but at least it’s more engaging than the other signs (though we double-checked, and Thomas Jefferson never spoke about a gravy train).

Rocco Rossi: For an election that’s being fought on the right side of the political spectrum, we’re surprised to see anyone actually go with red. Maybe Rossi is trying to say he’s the former highly placed Liberal who’s not ashamed of it? The simplicity here makes the sign less contentious than the high-concept, Sopranos-themed ones currently plastered through the city as part of Rossi’s latest ill- conceived attention grab. In fact, this sign is even simpler than Thomson’s, with no phone or URL. Rossi’s Internet-savvy campaign no doubt figures people can use the Google.

Joe Pantalone: It’s an indication of how vanilla these signs really are when Pantalone’s campaign has the most radical one—cursive writing, instead of block printing. Pantalone’s slogan, “Building a great city,” reminds everyone that unlike most of the candidates, Joe’s career in city politics is in progress, not starting out. And the words “Joe Pantalone” remind people that he’s running for mayor—a fact that, judging by the latest poll numbers, many voters seem to have forgotten. The green palette against a green lawn doesn’t help. The effect renders his signs almost as invisible as his candidacy.