The pink ribbon printed on Rep. Lisa Baldelli-Hunt's political signs is a symbol of her support for breast cancer screening via the local YWCA's ENCORE program, the Dist. 49 incumbent says.
The pink ribbon, she said, is meant to identify her as a candidate supporting breast cancer awareness and the need for screening. The signs do not spell that out in detail, however, making the purpose of the pink ribbon unclear to a few observers who have commented on it recently on a blog post in Woonsocket Patch's Local Voices.
The small print across the bottom of the sign reads: "Representative Baldelli-Hunt makes a $5 donation to support breast cancer awareness with every sign posted." The sign doesn't state which charity the donations support.
"Is the representative trying to tell voters that she's endorsed by the Susan G. Komen Foundation for a Cure?" wrote blogger James Thomas, noting the similarity the ribbons have with the logo for that charity.
The donations in fact will go to the YWCA's ENCOREplus program, Baldelli-Hunt said. She said during her last election contest, she put out about 51 signs and donated $255. This year, she said, she has 100 signs, so she'll be donating $500.
ENCOREplus is a systematic approach to women's health promotion, in particular, breast and cervical cancer education, according to YWCA CEO Deborah Perry.
Through ENCOREplus, the YWCA offers community outreach, breast and cervical health education, linkage to clinical screening services and assistance in accessing and navigating diagnostic treatment services when necessary. YWCA also offers support during diagnosis and treatment.
Perry said Baldelli-Hunt did make a donation during the last election to the program. She said it was strictly a donation on Baldelli-Hunt's initiative.
Baldelli-Hunt said she doesn't particularly like political signs, but doing the donations adds a positive element to them for her. "My feeling was that if I'm going to put some signs up, I'm going to do something positive with it," she said.
Bob Rapoza at the RI Elections Board said the state has no jurisdiction over political signs, except when they are posted on state property. In that case, he said, the signs are simply removed.
A call to the city's Board of Canvassers revealed no ordinances governing the content of political signs. The city's zoning ordinance is the only local law on the books regulating political signs, but only their placement and number; the content is at each candidate's discretion.
Woonsocket Zoning Ordinance 6.1-1.5, Political Signs, states: "Political signs of a temporary nature, not located on utility poles, on public property or within any right-of-way, not exceeding sixteen (16) square feet in area per side of sign, nor six (6) feet in height, limited to two (2) signs per parcel, and set back a minimum of five (5) feet from the pubiic right-of-way, shall be permitted. Said signs shall not be instalìed sooner than ninety (90) days prior to an eieetion, and shali be removed Within ten (10) days following said election."
Baldelli-Hunt said the ribbons on her signs identify her as a candidate supporting breast cancer screening and awareness, similar to political signs that state a candidate is environmentally or fiscally oriented. "I think that it is extremely petty that people are being critical of someone that wants to help a cause within our community," Baldelli-Hunt said.