It just wouldn’t be election season without some bickering over campaign tactics.

The latest kerfuffle came up during last Wednesday’s Grant County Court meeting after Commissioner Boyd Britton – whose post is not up for election – stepped out of the meeting briefly. On his return, Chris Labhart, a candidate for the county commissioner seat being vacated by Scott Myers, spoke up. He said it seemed inappropriate for Britton to leave the meeting in the midst of a public hearing. Britton replied that he had left to check on the legality of a campaign button sported by Labhart – and he went on to suggest it was a “campaign ethics” violation to wear it in the Court meeting.

“That, sir, is inappropriate,” Britton opined.

In a nod to civility, Labhart immediately removed the offending article and said he apologized “if I’ve done something wrong.”

Turns out, his apology was unnecessary. The button may have affronted one sitting commissioner, but there wasn’t anything illegal about it.

County Clerk Brenda Percy, who checked on the campaign rules at Britton’s request, found that buttons are OK. The button in question is sort of a badge, really – a shirt pocket piece shaped like Grant County and inscribed with the candidate’s name and “candidate for Grant County Commissioner” – but it undoubtedly fits the button definition for campaign purposes.

The only substantive limitations on campaign displays at the Courthouse don’t even kick in until the ballots go out; in this case that’s Oct. 19. After that, people will need to leave their signs, placards and other campaign displays at home – or at least 100 feet away from the Courthouse doors or any other public building that’s an election office or ballot drop. Bumper stickers and buttons will still be OK, as long as they don’t grow like topsy into a billboard size – and as long as the County Court doesn’t decide to create a new policy barring them from the Courthouse.

For now, we think it’s better to let cooler heads and tongues prevail. Britton and the rest of the Court have enough serious issues on their plate, without bickering over buttons. – SC

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