Now you see ‘em now you don’tBY PAM STEVENS | EDITOR Political signs doing a disappearing act The scattering of political signs forces our eyes to roadsides and front yards and helps us remember the names of those running for local offices.
As we drive down the street, there seems to be an abundance of names flying past us. Who are they? Do we want them representing us? Just exactly what do we know about these people? Are we being asked to re-elect, retain or elect them for the first time?
With these and other questions racing through our minds, it means the signs are working. They are doing the job that they were acquired to do.
However, more and more signs seem to be disappearing forcing candidates to buy more signs, take time to reinstall them and hope that they will stay where they have been placed this time.
Unfortunately, candidates across the board have had their signs taken, destroyed and some have been found in dumpsters.
"It saddens me that whoever is doing this has nothing better to do. Destroying and removing these signs is an infringement on a cherished right we enjoy in the United States, that is, the freedom of speech,” John Spencer said. “My hope is that Lake Stevens will become a place where people will find many constructive activities they can choose to engage in. Not vandalism.”
Whether it is the work of bored teenagers, disgruntled citizens or just plain vandals it is a crime to destroy or remove the signs without permission from the candidate themselves.
Revised Code of Washington (RCW) 29A.84.040 states, “a person who removes or defaces lawfully placed political advertising including yard signs or billboards without authorization is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable under RCW 9A.20.021. The defacement or removal of each item constitutes a separate violation”.
The punishment for such a crime comes under the misdemeanor code which states, “Every person convicted of a misdemeanor defined in Title 9A RCW shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a maximum term fixed by the court of not more than ninety days, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of not more than one thousand dollars, or by both such imprisonment and fine”.
It doesn’t seem worth the trouble to deface or destroy these signs.
One man was arrested in Lake Stevens on June 16 when a police officer saw him defacing political signs.
“A 26-year-old male was observed tearing up a campaign sign and throwing the pieces on the ground near Sandy Beach Dr. and on Lundeen Parkway,“ Lake Stevens Police said. “When asked why he was doing this he stated he was expressing his political opinion.”
The man was booked into the Marysville jail for defacing a political advertisement.
Each candidate is willing to move the signs if you ask them. If they are on your property without permission, let the candidate know.
“If anyone is having a problem with the placement of my signs, we ask that they please contact my campaign for removal,” Kerry Watkins said.
Candidates email addresses and phone numbers can be found on the Snohomish County Auditors website.