LAKE COUNTY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A now infamous sign in Lake County has been moved, and it is now at the center of a fight over a county sign ordinance.
Owner Elaine Simmons said she’s complied with an order by code enforcement and removed the “Toot for Trump” sign from the back of her property.
Simmons put up the sign more than a year ago to show support for candidate Donald Trump and recently updated it with a message about standing for the national anthem. That’s when the issues began.
Recently someone defaced the sign with vulgar graffiti, and a short time later Simmons received a notice from code enforcement that someone had complained about the sign and it had to be removed as it was in violation of a county sign ordinance.
That is why it now sits in front of Ralph Smith’s Taveres tire shop.
Smith is a State Republican Committeeman for Lake County and said he agrees with the message, but that isn’t why he asked Simmons if he could put it up.
"It has nothing to do with whether it's Trump or Hillary or Barrack Obama or whatever,” said Smith. "It's about free speech.”
Smith and Eustis City Commissioner Anthony Sabantini got involved in Simmons fight because of that county ordinance.
Smith said under the ordinance a sign like Simmons’ can only be posted for 90 days. Smith and Sabantini both said that they feel signs, especially on private property should be considered freedom of speech and not subject to that kind of rule.
"If one of them was running for county commissioner and they want to put a sign on my property, but the primary's next August - you think they'd take it down in 90 days? I think not,” said Smith.
Smith said he doesn’t blame the current county commission for the old ordinance, but said that it is on them to address the issue.
In the meantime, Smith has made copies of the sign and plans to post it at other spots in the county as well. He hopes in 90 days the ordinance will no longer be a factor.
"We'll see. We'll see what they do, and they'll be judged accordingly,” said Smith.
As for Simmons, she has already posted a new sign on her property; this one supporting the troops. She said she will comply with the 90 day rule while it stands.