The Signspotter: Jim Graham
The Signspotter: Jim Graham

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Candidate: Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham, seeking re-election

Colors: Red and white

Graphic elements: A bowtie adorning the last letter of his last name

Slogan: Unity—Unidad

Spotted: Quebec Place NW

Signspotter says: The bowtie has been perhaps our most useful trapping of political humility. For proud technocrat Anthony Williams, it was the affect of the accountant; for former New York Sen. Pat Moynihan, the flair of the faculty lounge. David Axelrod made an entire 30-second spot for the 1988 presidential campaign of Illinois Sen. Paul Simon that relied on the accessory as a testament to character. “My bowtie in a sense is my declaration of independence,” Simon said.

Jim Graham’s bowtie—part of a popinjay look-at-me ensemble of tailored suits and thick-rimmed glasses and convertible—declares something else about the man who wears it. It is perhaps the best reminder of the thing voters like least about him: the idea that their representative is more at home with the swells than the street, a business mogul casting council votes.

But the bowtie outfitting Graham’s name in his campaign logo evokes neither wonk nor fop. “The sign’s bowtie bears no resemblance to the dandyish hand-tied ones worn by the candidate. It looks like the stiff ones on the necks of waitstaff, or of the Playboy bunny,” says illustrator and graphic designer Jorge Colombo. “On the other hand, the typography is distinctly butch, and the red as strident as it gets. This is not about elegance, it’s about muscle.”

Photo by Darrow Montgomery