HOUSTON -- A Sugar Land resident who drives past the remnants of the Southwest Inn every day found it inappropriate that the chain link barricade fence around the site where four Houston firefighters died would now be home to election campaign signs.
And when 11 News contacted those candidates they immediately agreed and had the signs removed.
"It really struck a nerve personally,” said Bill Martin who lives in Sugar Land and commutes each day to work near downtown Houston. "When I saw signs being posted on what to me is hallowed ground I was just enraged."
Early Wednesday afternoon the fence held a single campaign sign each for Houston City Council candidate Roy Morales, Houston City Council candidate Rogene Calvert, and Houston Mayoral candidate Victoria Lane.
Reached by phone Morales said he was unaware that a constituent or any member of his staff might have placed the sign on the fence. In a phone conversation Rogene Calvert said the address was given to her campaign on a list of approved addresses by a local hotel association. But she says whoever, without her knowledge, placed her sign at the Southwest Freeway location clearly did not know the significance of the site.
Both candidates were apologetic for what they said was an unintended offense but declined the offer for an on camera interview Wednesday. But within 15 minutes of that last phone conversation the candidates had both of the signs removed.
The only candidate we were not able to reach despite repeated attempts by phone and email was mayoral candidate Victoria Lane. And late Wednesday afternoon her sign was the only one left on the fence.
We also reached out to former Houston firefighter and former union president Roland Chavez for his response. But despite the fact he is also a candidate in the same city council race he refused to criticize his fellow candidates. He praised them for quickly removing signs that he says they perhaps did not know had been placed at the location of the fatal May 31st fire.
"And now hearing that the signs came down, well great, good,” said Chavez.
As for Bill Martin, who says he had also contacted the Calvert campaign to complain about the election signs, he says he has no dog in this fight. As a Sugar Land resident he is not even a Houston voter. He just thought the signs, next to a bouquet of fabric flowers tied to the fence in memory of the fallen firefighters, didn’t belong at the site.