Some residents of the town of Roseland say they've been sending up 'smoke signals' for years. They wanted help getting rid of Town Council President Dorothy Snyder, and in 2007 that help is coming from a man who defeated her in the November election.
“We’re going to take control of the town and give it back to the town,” says Ted Penn.
Penn and his supporters gathered to set fire to signs that were once a source of struggle between town's government and town's people. “I believe I had the first ‘support our troops’ sign in town and within 24 hours I had a ticket saying they would fine me $50 a day each and every day until that sign came down,” recalls Sam McCombs.
Residents not only fought the no-signs ordinance in federal court, they posted more signs criticizing Dorothy Snyder and her husband, David, for violating freedom of speech rights.
Together the Snyders made up two-thirds of the Roseland Town Board. During that time controversy erupted as residents were thrown out of town meetings and even arrested for disturbing the proceedings. “It's going to change because the Snyders will not be doing things for their own personal gain,” says Michael Schalk. “The government is going to be coming back like it should be for the people and by the people.
The burning of signs may be symbolic of the end to Dorothy Snyder's political era, but residents of Roseland say they anticipate she'll continue to spark controversy in town from time to time.
“We have ordinances on file that she and her husband passed for unorderly people. The first person that's probably going to face that is her or her husband and will probably be taken out and arrested, but that remains to be seen,” Penn predicts. “If they're nice they'll be treated like anybody else.”
Dorothy Snyder would not comment about the end to her council term or the bonfire that celebrated it. Roseland residents say they'd like to see the controversy that's surrounded this town for years “go up in smoke".