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Campaign signs take a beating

By Xavier Smith xsmith@lebanondemocrat.com • Updated Jul 29, 2014 at 10:02 PM

Vandals destroyed several yard and political signs belonging to District 14 Wilson County Commissioner Jeff Joines throughout the Gladeville area Friday night, and it’s another example of something that’s become all too common during election season.  

Joines said about $400-$500 worth of political signs were destroyed by the vandals in an unusual way. 

“They were cut up with a machete or box cutter or knife,” Joines said. “I have no idea who did it, but obviously they were against my campaign. Several roads throughout the district had three or four signs.”

Joines said he’s hopeful his opponent or anyone involved with that campaign had nothing to do with the destruction of his signs.

Jason Henry, who challenged Joines for the District 14 commissioner seat, was adamant he had nothing to do with destroying his opponent’s signs. 

“I was out of town over the weekend,” Henry said. “I would never encourage anyone to do that and actually put up [on Facebook] a $100 reward for information leading to those responsible for destroying his signs. 

“I think a lot of it has to do with youth with nothing to do. I put it out there that if I found out anyone in my camp was involved with destroying Jeff’s signs, I would be the first to turn them in.”

Henry said he’s also had some losses through the campaign when it comes to signs. 

“I’ve also had signs that have gone missing,” he said. “I’ve found some in the bushes. I’ve probably lost 20 small signs and one large one.”

Henry said whoever wins the race for District 14 commissioner will represent the other. 

“He’s got to know I’ve got his back, and I’ve got to know he has my back,” Henry said. 

According to several candidates involved in the Aug. 7 election, damaged, destroyed or missing signs are common and even rampant. 

“We’ve had several complaints from various candidates about their political signs,” Sheriff Robert Bryan said. “They’re mostly stolen or thrown away, this is is the first time where some were vandalized. It’s hard to tell whether it was pranksters or not. It could’ve been anyone.”

“Everybody in campaigns loses signs,” said Joines, “Kids knock over signs or people may throw them away, but when you have 40 yard signs, and some big signs, it’s a little different than stealing one or throwing one away. I think it’s the violence that surprises people.”

Bryan said every election usually has the same things happen when it comes to candidate signs, and they are taking additional steps to protect the candidates’ properties.

“We have more a presence out and more cars riding around. We’re beefing it up and looking out for individuals or groups who may be doing this.”

Campaign yard signs could be the first and only forms of advertisement voters see. Name recognition is a high priority for candidates, and political lawn signs could be effective for their campaigns.

Anyone caught by authorities tampering with political campaign signs could be charged with vandalism and/or theft of property. 

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