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Big Sign Fines a Surprise

Some of the political candidates slapped with thousands of dollars in fines for illegally posting campaign signs are questioning Charlotte's ordinance on the practice. It's the first big test of a new ordinance that boosted fines for sign violations in the city. The City of Charlotte levied $104,000 in fines against 33 political candidates for putting campaign signs in illegal places, like traffic medians. The size of the fines appears to have taken candidates and City Council members by surprise. In January, the Council boosted the per-sign penalty from $25 to between $100 and $1000 dollars. But much of that discussion focused on business signs, rather than campaigns. City Councilman Anthony Foxx says the old fine wasn't high enough. "Businesses were accepting the slap on the wrist in exchange for getting their messages out," says Foxx. "This ordinance will definitely stop that, I imagine. But whether it goes too far is something that we'll have to talk about." 8th District Congressional winner Larry Kissell owes the largest fine for illegal campaign signs - $59,000 dollars. A spokesman for Kissell questions the way the rule was enforced, since the offending signs were posted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The Kissell campaign plans to appeal.