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As we approach Election Day on November 8 (see our voter’s guide), you might be getting tired of seeing election yard signs everywhere. But it could be worse. In 1972, a paiper-mache statue of President Richard Nixon stood at the corner of Emerson and Ohio in West St. Paul.
Flanked by an American flag, a sign in front of the then president declared, “If I lived in West St. Paul I would vote for…” with yard signs of West St. Paul candidates, including Gerald Pirkl for mayor and Alvin Jarvis for Ward 3 City Council.
Who was responsible? Resident Harvey Buckner put up the display on his corner property, purchasing the Nixon statue from high school student Steve Sack who created it.
- If the name sounds familiar, yes, Sack went on to become a Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist.
Electoral results: The display had mixed success—Nixon won re-election resoundingly in 1972, only to resign in the midst of the Watergate scandal two years later. Pirkl lost his run for mayor, but Jarvis won his seat on City Council.
Vandalism: The display didn’t last long either, apparently demolished by vandals on election night.
What about sign ordinances? State law preempts local sign ordinances during most elections, allowing for a sign free-for-all.
Historical nuance: 1972 proved to be an interesting year in West St. Paul politics as a group of seven candidates ran as a slate under the banner “Advance.” They argued for a proactive rather than reactive approach to city issues. They had limited success, with only two candidates winning, Thomas Stassen (nephew of Minnesota Governor Harold Stassen) and Ken Kube, both in Ward 1 (however, both would go on to higher office, Stassen serving as county commissioner and Kube as mayor).
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