For both winning and losing candidates, sign cleanup was apparently at the bottom of most political agendas in Elizabethtown.
Clarkton, White Lake, Bladenboro and other areas reported most signs were gone by Thursday morning. A few signs congratulating candidates were still in place, but most had been removed in the incorporated areas.
While a few candidates put their own signs out, most are set up by campaign supporters.
At 9 a.m. Thursday, 42 signs were scattered across the front of the King Street Gym in Elizabethtown. Some had blown into the street and gutter, while others still hung on their wire frames.
Of those 42, only state house candidate Edd Nye's signs were known to have been removed since Tuesday night.
His Republican challenger, Joy Barbour, had one sign left at the site. Barbour and another campaign worker were seen picking up signs near White Lake Thursday morning.
At the King Street Gym, polling place for Elizabethtown Precinct 2, other candidates' signs included
District Court Judge Aldridge, nine;
Superior Court Judge Ola Mae Lewis, seven;
Bladen County Commissioner candidate Charles Ray Peterson, four;
Superior Court Judge Jack Hooks Jr., seven;
State Senator Tony Rand., four;
Rand's Republican challenger, Bob White, one;
Superior Court Judge Bill Gore Jr., two; and
Associate Supreme Court Justice D.K. Butterfield, three.
Both U.S. Senate candidates, Elizabeth Dole and Erskine Bowles, had two signs each.
A few others had blown off the wire frames in Wednesday's storms and were caught up in piles of leaves washed into the gutters.
"Signs are the responsibility of the candidates and their campaign workers," said Larry Hammond, election supervisor. "They are responsible for following the highway laws in placing their signs, and they're responsible for cleaning them up."
Hammond said some signs can remain in place "for years" in remote areas. The weatherproof plastic and paper signs are designed to withstand the elements, and don't decay easily.
"The problem is always the worst around high-traffic preincts," Hammond said.
"This is shameful," said recreation commission chairman Bobby Gillespie. His department is located at the gym facility.
"It seems like they should have people out to clean these things up immediately," Gillespie said.
Town Manager David Smitherman said Elizabethtown is going to be reasonable. Most candidates and their campaigns are "usually pretty good about cleaning up."
"We're allowing a little leeway," he said. "If the signs aren't gone by the time we return from the Veteran's Day Holiday Tuesday, the town will be enforcing our ordinances to the letter."
Shortly after 9 a.m. Thursday, Bernard Morgan of Consulting Partners, a local campaign organization, began picking up signs at the gymnasium.
Morgan said he usually just retrieves signs for candidates who hire the firm, but on Thursday he was picking up all the signs at King street.
"This needs to be cleaned up," he said. "It's not that much trouble."
Morgan said he usually tries to get signs up as soon as the elections are finished. He also said he supports the idea that candidates must post a clean-up bond when running for office.
A clean-up bond, which has been adopted by some communities across the state, requires political hopefuls to post a bond before putting out signs.
The money is used for cleanup and disposal of political signs, if they are not picked up within a set period of time, usually 24 hours.
At White Lake, Mayor Goldston Womble last week announced that signs could not be placed inside the circle formed by the drive around the Town Hall. Signs placed in violation of the ordinance could be moved or disposed of by town employees.
On Tuesday, the only signs inside the circle were for Lewis, and Hooks. Several dozen other signs were scattered along the sides of the drive, but most were concentrated near the polling place, at the rear entrance of the fire department.
Assistant Town Clerk Brenda Clark said most of the candidates obeyed the town's new sign rules. A few placards had to be moved, "but for the most part, they were where they belonged."
Clark also said candidates cleaned up their campaign posters quickly. None were still in evidence Thursday morning around the town hall.
Department of Transportation crews were removing signs from the state highway rights-of-way Thursday morning as well, but most signs were outside the area usually mowed by the state. Signs on the back side of the mowing line must be removed by campaign workers.