Whidbey candidates lament sign vandalism
By JESSIE STENSLAND
Whidbey News Times Assistant editor
July 22, 2008 · Updated 9:45 AM
The candidate signs posted on the highways and byways of Whidbey Island are an obvious indication that the political season has come. But it’s also the season of vandals.
Island County Sheriff Mark Brown sent out an email alert this week in response to a number of complaints about political signs being damaged, moved or stolen. He warned that it’s a crime to deface or remove political advertising, including yard signs and billboards.
The sheriff said deputies are investigating the crimes that cost candidates many hundreds of dollars.
“I’m telling you from experience, the signs are expensive,” he said. “We’re asking people to call with any complaints.”
The vandals seem to target all political persuasions.
Perhaps worst hit has been Coupeville attorney Craig Platt, who is running for a nonpartisan, Superior Court judge position. He said the yard sign theft has been pretty devastating to his campaign, especially since he has decided not to accept donations.
Thursday, someone pulled campaign signs and placed them in a cross in his yard. He attributes this to a backlash from a News-Times story that erroneously stated that he and the family of a convicted child rapist insisted the man was innocent and being railroaded by vindictive women. In fact, the family members made those assertions, but not Platt. The News-Times ran a correction.
But even before the article, Platt said his signs were being stolen. His daughter designed them and put them up, but was disheartened when they disappeared overnight.
In fact, Platt said vandals have gone into fenced areas to steal signs, which is burglary.
“People are willing to commit a felony to stifle democracy,” he said, adding that it’s also a form of terrorism.
The attorney isn’t the only candidate upset.
Wednesday night, someone destroyed two, giant-sized signs advertising Democrat Ann McDonald, a candidate for state representative. The signs were near the Greenbank store.
She’s asking anyone who wants to help replace the signs to contribute at her Web site, www.electannmcdonald.com.
Republican Reese Rose, a candidate for county commissioner, reported that vandals caused $250 worth of damages to signs in Greenbank Thursday night.
Rufus Rose, the candidate’s husband, sent out an email offering to meet privately with the vandal to allow him or her to express the motives behind the sign attack. The vandal may contact him by telephone at 360-579-2790 or by email at email@example.com.
Like Platt, Rose feels that political sign desecration is simply un-American.
“Political campaigns are about individuals participating in self government,” Rose wrote. “It requires a lot of work, time and money to express one’s self to as many voters as possible in a short time and to gain name recognition. It also requires well informed citizenship and fair play on everyone’s part.”
You can reach News-Times reporter Jessie Stensland at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 675-6611.Contact Whidbey News Times Assistant editor Jessie Stensland at email@example.com or 360.675.6611 ext. 5056.