Several of City Councilor Dusty Huckabee’s campaign signs along College Boulevard were slashed again Wednesday. Candidates reported that hundreds of signs have been s[auth] tolen or damaged during the campaign. (Jill McLaughlin Photo)
Thieves and pranksters apparently have called an open season on campaign signs across much of the city as municipal candidates continue to notice placards missing, damaged or moved.
“We’ve probably lost about 100 signs — about 100 signs have been stolen,” said Mayor Del Jurney. “Absolutely, it’s a lot of money. It definitely is.”
Candidates from nearly every ward reported signs missing, damaged or taken by a prankster in the past few weeks.
“If everybody is losing signs equally or proportionally, then we’re all suffering equally,” Jurney said. “I don’t recall it happening four years ago. There are a few that come up missing. People just take them for some reason, but not to this amount.”
Even if Jurney found his before the election, it wouldn’t be enough time to put them back up, he said.
“The signs are an important part of a campaign,” Jurney said.
Mayoral candidate Dennis Kintigh had lost “maybe 20” yard signs and two to three larger signs that he knew of, he said.
Kintigh had many more taken, as did several other candidates, but his campaign spent the past two weekends retrieving them.
On at least two occasions, high-school students had collected up to 120 yard signs from across the northern part of town and filled a yard with the colorful display.
Candidates have been called out to collect the signs the next day.
“We had some that disappeared (last) Sunday afternoon and some more Saturday afternoon. We haven’t gotten those back yet,” Kintigh said. “We haven’t gotten everything back from the first one either.”
Similar pranks have occurred the past two weekends.
“The biggest irritation, I would say, is for the volunteers who go out to put them up,” Kintigh said. “People who make donations out of their pockets to buy them, it really hurts more than the candidate — regardless of who the candidate is.”
Candidate Caleb Grant was able to collect 80 of his signs taken in the pranks, he said.
“I’ve gotten most of them back,” Grant said. “I’ve had large quantities taken over about four different nights. It’s just the time getting them all and putting them back up.”
Caleb also has lost some of his larger 4-foot by 4-foot signs that were torn down.
Councilor Art Sandoval had noticed some of his signs disappearing. He got a call that about 10 of his yard signs were found in the Dexter area, he said.
“It’s really not a good prank anymore. It’s getting kind of old,” Sandoval said. “Signs are expensive.”
In Ward 1, Dusty Huckabee and Natasha N. Mackey have had signs damaged.
Huckabee and his wife, Heidi, arrived home from a trip Sunday to find several of his signs slashed in half along College Boulevard. Huckabee reported the damage to police.
When he first saw the damage, it nearly brought him to tears, Heidi Huckabee said. He walked up and down the street the next day with duct tape.
Then, Wednesday evening, the signs were sliced apart again.
“Dusty doesn’t have enough money to keep buying more signs,” Heidi Huckabee said. “Dusty went through and duct-taped all the signs. It’s just frustrating and I’m mad.”
Huckabee has also lost 17 signs, his wife said.
“They’ve disappeared,” she said. “I hope to God it’s kids. If it’s a kid, they don’t know any better. How dare anybody come and do that to us. It’s disheartening.”
The police report was amended to include Wednesday’s damages, Heidi said. Each sign costs about $20 with time and labor, she said.
Huckabee’s opponent, Mackey, said she’s also had about 20 signs disappear.
“They’re either missing or damaged,” Mackey said. “A big sign was stolen off somebody’s fence. It’s a huge 4-by-4. What they’ve told me is the big signs are good for target practice.”
The larger signs cost $15, but it adds up, Mackey said.
Councilor Barry Foster and candidate Tabitha Denny said they hadn’t had many signs taken. Denny’s large signs are on Main Street, so that helped, she said.
Foster estimated he had 10 missing signs.
“I have had a couple of signs go missing, but nothing to the degree of a hundred or such,” Foster said. “Some is the wind and some is people taking them down. But the signs cost a lot. That’s where most of our money is spent, is on signs.”