Signs of Victory

Tim Male and Lorig Charkoutian yard signsWarring neighbors


Dear Readers,

Yard signs can be revealing – or concealing. They might show which candidate in the Takoma Park city elections has the most support – or they can show which candidate didn’t print enough signs.

A bike ride through Ward 6 might convince you that challenger Barrie Howard has nearly twice as many supporters as councilmember Fred Schultz, for instance. But that impression changes if you know that Schultz ran out of yard signs because he didn’t have any new ones printed up this year. That’s what one of his supporters says, anyway.

If that’s NOT the case, councilmember Schultz is in for a rough election day. He might be, anyway, it certainly looks like Howard has a lot of support.

Fred Schultz yard sign

One of the brave, the few.


Barry Howard sign

One of many.

Ward War 2

Ward 2 is looking more like War 2. There are warring yard signs on several streets. At least one house has a sign for each – signalling either neutrality in the race, or room-to-room combat in the household. The battle goes beyond Ward 2. There are yard signs for both candidates all over the city!  Since candidates in other wards have endorsed Lorig Charkoudian it’s not surprising to see her signs next to theirs, but Tim Male’s signs are posted in other wards too.

That race appears to be too tight too call, but Tim Male has a slight edge in the number of households displaying his yard signs.

Tim Male and Lorig Charkoutian yard signs

Warring neighbors

No sign

Two of the three Ward 3 candidates have made it tough on pundits by refusing to use yard signs. That leaves the field – and the yards – to the third candidate, Kay Daniels-Cohen.

The distribution of her signs is telling. They are thick on the ground on Sherman Avenue where she lives, but they thin out the farther one ventures from that street. There are none on nearby Grant Ave, where Mike Graul, one of the other candidates, lives. They are scarce in the southern end of Ward 2, where Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum grew up.

Kay Daniels-Cohen yard signs

The wall-o-signs down Sherman Avenue

All three candidates have remarked on what they call the hourglass shape of Ward 3 and the differences between north and south halves. Actually the shape is more tick-like, the northern portion being the smaller-size head, the southern part being the big, round body. There is resentment and disgruntlement in that larger southern body, they say. The last time the ward had a council representative residing south of Carroll Avenue was in the 1990s. The last three lived in the northern section, and all three current candidates are from the north. Residents in the northern “head” are generally happier with city government and services, according to Kay Daniels-Cohen. She’s a city booster, as are her neighbors, she says, and she admits she was a bit surprised to find that the southern “body” was more negative about the city.

The disgruntled vote

Not everyone in the northern “head” agrees with her. Two streets over where Mike Graul lives, he campaigns on improving city services.

Perhaps his disgruntled view has found more favor in the southern portion of the ward. Or maybe those people are alienated and disinterested in the election. For some reason there are few households displaying campaign signs (around 15) in all of Ward 3 from Carroll Avenue southward. And two of those (homemade?) are for Jeffrey Noel-Nosbaum.

Noel-Nosbaum campaigns on changing the ward’s boundry – even if he were to lose his seat – so Ward 3 is more compact.

Of all the candidates in all the wards, Noel-Nosbaum is the only one that gets that being a city councilmember is all about consituent service, not reforming city government. To the contrary, he’s the only one who has the appropriate humility as a freshman councilmember – ready to learn from veteran councilmembers and city staff. That’s not to say we endorse him. He takes the humility a bit too far

Observers of Takoma Park politics (yes, there really are some) said at the time of the city’s October candidate nominating caucus that Daniels-Cohen was a shoe-in. She has name recognition, a long record of civic involvement, and the energy and disposition of a Mexican jumping bean. That was in October.

Now, the odds are still in her favor, but the scarcity of her yard signs in southern Ward 3 is some kind of sign, so to speak. It would be clearer if the other candidates had their own signs, that is. They DELIBERATELY have to make life difficult for Your Gilbert!

The important thing about yard signs is whose yard they are in. A yard sign is an endorsement at the grassroots level – literally. Voters who haven’t really been paying attention may miss the fact that a candidate has been endorsed by a state or county politician, but they will notice who has whose yard signs stuck in the ground. If that person is a friend, or someone known to be a civically actiive, that’s a fat, 100-pound point in a candidate’s favor.

Have you voted yet, Dear Readers?

– Gilbert

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

4 Comments on "Signs of Victory"

  1. It’s Barrie (not Barry) Howard

    also — Charkoudian, not Charkoutian

    Maybe it’s time to take the bag off your head so you can see 😉

  2. Hey, Smartiepants, YOU try writing when you’re drunk!

    – Gilbert

  3. We move from state to state, usually one step ahead of the authorities.

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