Sign vandalism frustrates candidates
A group of municipal candidates believe destruction of their campaign signs along 40th Avenue, north of 19th Street, on Sunday night was a targeted attack.
It was the third time Red Deer First has had to repair their signs after they were heavily damaged by vandals.
Some have become adept at what candidate Darren Young called “Frankenstein-ing” them back together, using new material to repair the old.
“It’s freaking frustrating,” said Young. “Frustrating beyond comprehension.
“I understand some levity and playing around, but this is clearly vandalism with an intent and that hurts us.”
Young was joined by fellow candidates Tanya Handley, Bob Bevins, Calvin Goulet-Jones and Janella Spearing, all running under the Red Deer First banner, and their campaign manager Ryan Handley on Monday to put the signs back together.
They have spent weekends, days and evenings fixing signs.
“It takes away our time from being able to go and knock on doors and talk about what is important to them when we are here,” said Tanya Handley.
The campaign is made up of mostly self-funded individuals, so all repairs to the signs come out of the pockets of the Red Deer First candidates.
Ryan Handley said they filed a complaint with the police and may offer a reward if anyone has any information on who damaged their signs.
“This points to not kids with big trucks,” said Ryan Handley. “It’s targeted.”
He pointed to some signs to the north of their signs that were still standing.
Young was hard at work fixing not only Red Deer First signs, but also the signs of others who had been damaged, including candidate Buck Buchanan.
“A few of them have been knocked down,” said Buchanan.
“Sometimes the wind has toppled some of them. As far as vandalism, there has been some, on 30th Avenue there was some a week or so ago with a swath that went down.
“It’s crimes of opportunity.”
This isn’t Buchanan’s first election and he has experience when it comes to damaged signs.
“It seems to be hit or miss,” he said.
“In a lot of instances I don’t believe it is a personal thing.”
Red Deer First members insist that this attack was directed at them.
“If it is, shame on whoever did it,” said Buchanan.
“I think everybody deserves the same respect. If someone out there has turned it into a personal axe to grind against a candidate, I think that is terrible.”
A Facebook group is set up so candidates can communicate with each other if any see damaged signs. The group, called Red Deer Election Signage Candidate Communication, was set up by Goulet-Jones.
Other candidates have eschewed signs altogether: both Jon Wieler and Paul Harris have said they won’t have election signs.
Candidates are notified of damaged signs by the City of Red Deer and have 24 hours to repair or remove them. If they are not dealt, with the candidates are fined $100.