ORANGE — Council President Brandon Duber proposed a change to the village’s code that would block peddlers and canvassers from leaving literature at homes with the Do Not Knock sticker. The point of registering a home on the Do Not Knock list, he said, is to keep unwanted visitors off the property. Mayor Kathy Mulcahy disagreed, stating that such an ordinance would adversely affect Orange Village candidates during election season.
“What I think this does effectively is it eliminates the Orange Village candidates,” Mayor Mulcahy said at the Jan. 8 council meeting. “They’re the only ones who want to leave you literature.”
Last year, the village passed an ordinance to create their own Do Not Knock registry and 295 residences are on the list, according to Orange Village police. The current ordinance in place prevents peddlers and canvassers from knocking on the door of a home with the sticker, but they are still allowed to leave literature.
Mr. Duber gave an example to explain why he proposed the change. He said that someone approached his home to leave literature at the door and the dog barked, which woke up the sleeping baby.
“If I don’t really want somebody on my property, then I don’t want somebody on my property,” Mr. Duber said.
Law Director Steve Byron distinguished between canvassers and peddlers. He said that a canvasser is anyone coming to a residence without a previous appointment for the purpose of disseminating a lawful message with or without soliciting funds or donations. A peddler does the same activity but for commercial gain, he said.
Mr. Byron said that the main concern is First Amendment rights, noting that the Supreme Court of the United States has made it clear that communities cannot distinguish on the basis of speech but can regulate activity. Orange’s code requires peddlers who are seeking profit to register but not canvassers.
“As a matter of law, right now it’s not a crime to walk up to the door,” he said.
Mr. Duber said that candidates for elected positions in the village, such as mayor and council members, can also send literature through the U.S. Postal Service or through email. One common activity for candidates is to go door to door to meet the residents and gather support. Mr. Duber said that banning the candidates from leaving literature would not make a big difference because the candidates are already not allowed to knock on doors with the Do Not Knock sticker.
Councilwoman Staci Vincent disagreed and said that many residents opened their doors for her after she left literature, stating that they only had the Do Not Knock sticker to keep solicitors away, not council candidates.
“I had people keep me for the better part of 45 minutes or an hour because they said, ‘Oh, that was for other people. We don’t want peddlers coming around, that’s why we have the do not knock.’”
Mrs. Vincent said that she often left notes on her campaign literature encouraging the residents to call her, which she said was a successful way to connect with more people.
Mayor Mulcahy said that some people have a newspaper box where candidates can leave literature, but residents living in condominiums do not have a place to leave such materials. Literature cannot be placed in mailboxes, according to a regulation from the U.S. Postal Service.
Councilman Jud Kline said that there is a “technical issue” with the Do Not Knock registry. Depending on where the sticker is placed, canvassers and peddlers cannot see it until they are close to the house.
“Unless you are able to put something out on the street, it’s not going to prevent somebody from at least walking up the driveway until they find out ‘Oh, I can’t knock on the door here,’ and turn around and come back,” he said. “By then, the dog may have already barked.”
The ordinance was on the first of three required readings.