Mahoning County commissioner to request ‘offensive’ billboards to be taken down

Local News

'If it cannot be broadcast by the FCC on radio or television, how is it OK to be on the side of the road?' Ashley Davidson said

BERLIN CENTER, Ohio (WKBN) – A Mahoning County Commissioner plans to ask for the removal of some billboards in the county that he and others have deemed offensive.

Anthony Traficanti said he is making the request at Thursday’s commissioners’ meeting.

They were brought to his attention by his former student, Ashley Davidson.

“Driving with my 6-year-old, he said, ‘Hey mom, can we go there?'” said Davidson.

Davidson’s observational son saw a Ferris wheel on a billboard and thought it was advertising an amusement park, but after a closer look, Davidson realized that wasn’t the case.

“I just couldn’t believe my eyes,” she said.

The billboard she is referring to is advertising sex toys fashioned onto a Ferris wheel, and it’s been on U.S. 224 in Berlin Center for months, according to a neighbor of the sign. It used to be on the opposite side, which would allow drivers heading west to see it, on upper billboard

“I don’t want to infringe on someone’s First Amendment rights nor do I want zoning, but at the same time, if it cannot be broadcast by the FCC on radio or television, how is it OK to be on the side of the road?” said Davidson.

The fact that her child was the first to see it was the issue. After going back and looking at it herself, she realized if one child could see it, many could see it. In an era where technology is prevalent among young children, this could be problematic, she said.

“I feel like the FCC needs to take into consideration this type of broadcasting…or this print before we’re allowing children just to willy-nilly look at it,” she said. “They can’t go to the website without…accepting that they’re over 18. It can’t be on TV and radio, but we have it on the side of a public road.”

Davidson said the imagery appeals more to children than adults, as children typically seek out amusement parks.

She said people may not care, but that is also an issue.

“We’re desensitizing our community and children to accept this as OK, and it’s not,” said Davidson.

It’s not the only one. Down the road past the bridge over Lake Milton and just after the roundabout in Deerfield Township is another billboard. It features the top half of a scantily-clad woman holding bondage material.

“I try to teach my children to stand up for what is right and wrong when they see something is wrong, and if I don’t have the courage to do it, how do I expect them to have the courage when they see something wrong?” said Davidson.

Davidson said she heard that the sign is being taken down because it went against an agreement with the landowner. First News reached out to the owner of the land but hasn’t heard back yet.

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