Vandalism cases of campaign signs increase in El Paso, Teller and Jefferson counties as election nears | Mail from Pikes Peak

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As the Nov. 8 midterm elections approach, the theft and vandalism of signs promoting certain candidates or positions on voting issues is rampant on both political camps, according to campaign officials.

But Republican signage appears to be hardest hit in the Pikes Peak area, where the number of registered Republican voters outweighs Democrats.

In Teller County, half of the six 4-by-8-foot road signs endorsing Erik Aadland, a Republican candidate for Colorado’s 7th congressional district, were either stolen or damaged, said Tim LeBlanc, a campaign volunteer for Aadland. of Florissant.

“These vandals want freedom of speech but they won’t let us have ours,” he said. “That’s not how we act in America.”

The signs were placed legally, LeBlanc said, with permission from landowners along highways through Woodland Park and Divide.

In one case, sturdy plastic ties securing the wooden frame to a sign erected near Republican Party headquarters were cut, causing the frame to break, LeBlanc said.

“Then I used yarn,” he said.

Another sign was cut on the wall of a building.

LeBlanc points the finger at people supporting Democratic candidate Brittany Pettersen in the tense battle for the redesigned congressional seat.

“We don’t mess with their signs,” he said of Aadland’s opponent.

Small yard signs favoring Aadland were also removed or torn, LeBlanc said.

Large road signs cost about $75 each, said Kel Koop, field engineer for Aadland in Jefferson County.

About 40 signs were stolen or damaged on highways near Evergreen, Golden and Arvada, he said.

In one instance, an Aadland sign was removed from the waiting posts and replaced with a Democrat sign, Koop said.

However, Koop said: “We have no evidence, in many cases there is nothing left and no witnesses” of the vandalism.

“We need to be civil in the way we run these elections, not ‘How can we destroy the other side,’ which seems to be the approach.”

Authorities have received a report of signs being destroyed in Woodland Park, Police Chief Chris Deisler said.

If a suspect is identified and the victim is willing to prosecute, the offense would likely be criminal mischief, he said, with the criminal degree depending on the amount of damages.

A 4-by-8-foot sign promoting Michael Bennet, a Democrat running to retain his U.S. Senate seat, was stolen in Teller County, said Laurie Glauth, chairman of the county’s Democratic party.

“They had to go across a barbed wire fence on private property to hang it up,” she said.

Teller County has more than three times as many registered Republican voters as Democrats.

Glauth said the action “should in no way be tolerated”.

“Anyone who damages the signs is wrong – it doesn’t matter which side of the room they are on,” she said.

In neighboring El Paso County, the Democratic Party has received reports of street signs being stolen, but none have been defaced, said a main office volunteer who declined to be named.

Tracking devices placed on signs led to a dumpster where some of the missing signs were recovered, she said.

“It’s not unusual,” she said of the situation. “We had at least 10 people come back and pick up others.”

Candidates buy the signs and provide them for distribution at party headquarters, she said.

In the Tri-Lakes area of ​​northern El Paso County, signs opposing a factory fee waiver initiative by Lewis-Palmer School District 38 in Monument were also hit by gunfire. vandals.

‘They write obscenities, they spray paint our banners and cut them down,’ said resident Derek Araje, who serves on a district finance committee and campaigns against the $5.6 million annual tax hike. dollars to raise the salaries of teachers and non-professionals. administrative staff.

“It’s a pattern, and it happens in every election here at Monument,” he said. “When they put up pro-MLO signs, they put anti-MLO signs on the floor.”

Nearly half of the anti-MLO signs – 70 out of 150 placed in the community – were also stolen, Araje said, calling the action “dirty politics”.

A poster on a Facebook group wrote: “Removing these ‘No MLO’ signs is a public service. Welcome.”

Kyle Blakely, head of ‘Yes’ on the MLO campaign, said three of their group’s signs were vandalized and yard signs were also missing.

“For adversaries to act as if only their signs are damaged or missing is quite dishonest,” he said. “We had several large ‘Yes on 4A’ signs vandalized and yard signs stolen.”

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