Surfside Beach Town Council candidate LaVerne Kreklau questioned town officials Monday about an ordinance that prohibits candidates from leaving campaign literature at homes.
Kreklau asked the council to suspend the policy ahead of the town elections. His request stemmed from an Oct. 5 email from the town clerk’s office reminding the candidates that leaving door hangers at homes when nobody is home is a violation of town law. Kreklau said this year is the first time that part of the ordinance has been invoked to limit political campaigns.
“This is selective enforcement and limits freedom of speech,” he said.
Section 8-68 (b) of the town ordinances says, “It shall be unlawful to place any such advertisement, business or otherwise or any notice or sign of any nature on private property within the town without the consent of the owner or lessee of the property.”
Outgoing town councilman David Pellegrino agreed with Kreklau, saying candidates have always been able to leave fliers regardless of whether someone is home.
Kenneth Hofmann, the town's police chief, said the issue came to light when the police were called about people walking around the town leaving placards at houses.
Hofmann said the officer handled the situation correctly and never threatened to arrest anyone.
The police chief recommended suspending enforcement of that part of the ordinance until after the Nov. 2 election. The council could reexamine it then.
Hofmann added that other area municipalities are less restrictive when it comes to leaving information at homes.
The council unanimously agreed and voted to set that part of the ordinance aside until after the town election.
Council member Debbie Scoles did ask the candidates to respect any “no soliciting” or “no trespassing” signs at homes in towns.
In that race, seven candidates are vying for three open council seats.
The Keep Surfside Beach Beautiful Committee is hosting a candidates forum Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Holiday Inn in Surfside Beach.