Sign wars demean election
Political campaigns are not generally known for gracious and well-mannered behavior and dirty tricks are endemic in many contests.
Sometimes that leads to classic political theater, as when famous campaign consultant and prankster Dick Tuck hired a very-visibly pregnant, African-American woman to show up at a Richard Nixon rally in a white neighborhood holding a campaign sign with the candidate’s own slogan on it, proclaiming, “Nixon’s the one.”
But Tuck would probably dismiss as petty and juvenile the unfortunately common practice of stealing campaign signs from supporters’ front yards, as appears to have become endemic in the Sonoma Valley during the six-person race for 1st District Supervisor.
A campaign with that many candidates breeds a lot of signs along with, apparently, the irresistible temptation to steal them. Among those whose signs have reportedly been stolen are Gina Cuclis, Joanne Sanders, Mark Bramfitt, John Sawyer and Susan Gorin. That leaves only Michael McClure, whose signs – if they exist – are not easy to find.
Cuclis campaign members have accused Sanders’ campaign members of stealing signs, and Cuclis’ husband, Roy Tennant, complained to police that his wife’s signs were spotted inside a van owned by Sanders’ campaign manager Jenny Irving.
Irving countered that the signs in her van were Cuclis signs she pulled out of her front yard when someone planted them there after stealing her Sanders signs.
Police have been called to investigate at least two such incidents, but no official reports have been written and no charges have been filed because no concrete evidence has been presented or discovered on which to base an investigation. Sonoma Police Chief Bret Sackett wisely observed that his officers have better things to do than pursue sign thieves without concrete evidence.
Then on May 21, Tennant appeared at a City Council meeting to complain during public comments that Sanders was violating the Sonoma Municipal Code with oversized signs. Sanders later responded that she hadn’t been aware of the violation – signs cannot exceed eight-square-feet – when the signs were put up, but had the offending signs removed when so informed, save two in the yard of a supporter who refused to take them down.
At the same City Council meeting, Sonoma resident Bob Mosher rose to report that a Cuclis sign had also been stolen from his yard. “I am sad such a thing as this has struck our community,” Mosher lamented. “I think we’re really better than that. I hope we don’t see any of this again, ever.”
We heartily agree. And while we’re skeptical that any of the candidates have sanctioned sign stealing or vandalism, clearly some of their supporters haven’t gotten the message.
We hope that, in the waning days of this election campaign, the focus can turn to content, character and qualifications. Let’s please leave the signs alone.