City & County of Honolulu

Bill would restrict sign-waving

A councilman argues pedestrian
politicking poses a traffic hazard

By Gordon Y.K. Pang

City Councilman Gary Okino acknowledges that several motorists had "near misses" because they were distracted by his political sign-waving during his first campaign two years ago.

After one of those incidents at Moanalua Road and Kaahumanu Street in which he was nearly hit, "I started staying away from corners," Okino said.

Now he is introducing a bill that would bar sign-waving at street corners and near crosswalks.

"It is very distracting," Okino said. "People look at you, they don't look in front."

Okino said he is not attempting to stop sign-waving altogether. Besides being a local custom, "it's a First Amendment right," he said.

The bill would prohibit sign-waving within 15 feet of either side of a midblock crosswalk, within 10 feet of a marked corner crosswalk, and within 25 feet of a corner curb line when there is no marked crosswalk.

Only one political party leader asked about the proposal did not like it.

Libertarian Party of Hawaii Chairman Roger Taylor said the bill amounts to more regulation. Sign-wavers and the candidates they support should, however, be more responsible and be held liable if they caused an accident, he said.

Democratic Party Chairwoman Lorraine Akiba, Republican Party Chairman Micah Kane and Green Party Chairman Ira Rohter said sign-waving is a legitimate tool, particularly for political neophytes trying to get their names out without much expense.

But they said they support Okino's attempt to inject safety measures.

Akiba said her party's candidates are encouraged to walk their districts "meeting the constituents door to door."

Kane said the bill would "change the dynamics of campaigning" on Oahu, but believes candidates will adapt.

Rohter said forums are a more responsible way for candidates and the electorate to learn about each other.

City & County of Honolulu

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