ST. GEORGE — As the Nov. 4 elections draw closer, multiple candidates in Southern Utah are not only having to compete against others in the race, but also against vandals who have been damaging, removing and knocking down their campaign signs.
On Saturday, campaign signs for Paul Van Dam, a democrat in the running for Washington County Commission, had been removed and hidden behind a utility box on the corner of 1450 S. River Road, Lisa Rutherford, Van Dam’s campaign manager, said.
The Van Dam campaign first heard about the altered signs when they received a phone call from a friend letting them know their signs were no longer there, Rutherford said. When members of the campaign arrived on scene, they found campaign signs for Chris White, a democratic candidate for Washington County Commission, and Shaun McCausland, a Constitution Party candidate for the 2nd Congressional District, had also been removed.
“Chris White’s and McCausland’s signs weren’t damaged, so we just put them back up,” Rutherford said. “(Van Dam’s) sign was actually taken apart, so we had to reconstruct that.”
After seeing what had happened to the campaign signs, Rutherford said she contacted the St. George Police Department to let them know about the situation. She said officers let her know they would keep an eye out on the campaign signs in that area.
On Oct. 18, a campaign sign promoting Dorothy Engelman, a democratic candidate for House 74, was vandalized with red spray paint. The sign was located at 552 N. Dixie Drive in St. George with “anti-gun” and “no gun” spray painted on both sides.
“It was on a sign that cost $200 so I went and called the St. George police Department,” Engelman said.
The vandalism occurred during daylight and no other signs in that area were vandalized, Engelman said. Since it was during the day and in a public area, she hopes someone who witnessed what happened will contact the authorities.
On Tuesday, Dorothy Engelman’s husband, Gary Engelman, said he discovered another campaign sign had been vandalized. A sign located on the corner of Pioneer Parkway and Highway 91 had been run over and had a tire mark going over it.
Washington County is not the only area having issues with vandalized campaign signs. Cindy Robinson, a write-in candidate for Iron County Clerk said she has had to deal with the problem multiple times throughout the Cedar City and Enoch City area.
The campaign signs have been removed, knocked over and even stepped on and broken, Robinson said. The constant vandalism takes away time that she would normally used to strengthen her campaign.
“I want to talk with people and visit with people,” Robinson said, “but what happens is that I have to take two hours of my time to put all my signs back up.”
Robinson said friends who have seen someone in the area altering her campaign signs have also contacted her. One told Robinson he confronted a woman about it, but the woman claimed she was just straightening Robinson’s sign.
The Cedar City Police Department was contacted about the sign vandalism, Robinson said. Officers told her that they would watch out for anybody altering or destroying campaign signs.
There has not been an excessive problem with campaign sign vandalism, St. George Police Sgt. Sam Despain said, but said he urges people to think twice before deciding to alter a campaign sign.
“If people steal a campaign sign, it’s theft; and if they destroy them or mark them in any way, it’s criminal mischief,” Despain said.
Anyone who witnesses someone vandalizing or removing campaign signs is urged to contact their local law enforcement agency.
- All St. George News reports related to Election 2014
- High School Marquee offends sensibilities for election law violation (2012)
- George City Council Race May Be Heating Up (2011)
- Van Dam calls for return to Vision Dixie principles, uniform infrastructure
- Engelman seeks to represent the unrepresented, favors severance tax, nondiscrimination law
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