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Both parties denounce theft and destruction of campaign signs

Leaders of the Republican and Democratic parties are condemning theft and defacement of campaign signs, saying that the rash of vandalism is escalating beyond what the community has seen in past elections. Here are statements the Lightning received from the Republican Party chair and from a Democratic activist.


'Pull together and stop this lawlessness'




The Henderson County Republican Party soundly repudiates all criminal activity against all parties and all candidates and will prosecute to fullest extent of the law if the perpetrator is apprehended.
During the early morning hours on October 9th, a premeditated and coordinated effort of leftist criminals vandalized private property in various areas of our county and two neighboring counties that night. They were prepared with ladders, spray paint, knives, heavy adhesives, and duct tape and went to work.
A billboard the Republican Party paid for was ruined with spray paint. Candidate signs were stolen, defaced then heavily glued to the Republican Headquarters’ window. The same morning a candidate’s residence was vandalized. Two 4X8 Trump signs at the entrance of the Four Seasons Mall requiring a ladder to reach were cut up, and a large Trump banner placed high up on a facing was torn. This was a premeditated widespread attack. We have police reports, newspaper accounts and the ugly acts against Republicans here in Henderson County have even made it into national news.
The attacks on the Republican Party and even Republicans themselves are escalating, and dangerous.
We estimate as many as 800 Trump signs have been stolen off roads and out of front yards, and countless other candidate signs have been stolen or vandalized. Some folks are putting their signs and banners high up in trees to stop the thievery.
If your sign or property gets stolen or vandalized, please report it to law enforcement. If you see someone stealing or defacing private property, try to get a picture of the person and license plate and report it to the police.
To those who’s signs were stolen, please do not retaliate. The Henderson County Republican Party will issue a reward to anyone with information leading to the arrest and conviction of someone stealing or vandalizing the property of any political party or candidate.
We must pull together as a community and stop this lawlessness.

Merry Guy is chair of the Henderson County Republican Party.

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'Value freedom of expression'


It’s election season, and some ugly history is repeating itself in Hendersonville.

Political signs are an integral part of any election season. It’s a form of free speech, and helps candidates widen their name recognition with voters. And you can see them now, sprouting like mushrooms along the roadways and in people’s yards.

In 2012, and again in 2016, local Democrats put up hundreds of signs touting their candidates, especially the presidential tickets. But almost as soon as Obama/Biden (2012) and Clinton/Kaine (2016) signs went up, they disappeared -- stolen, usually at night, by “parties unknown.” Many complaints were made to the Hendersonville Police Department and the Sheriff’s office -- all to no avail. No one was ever caught.

Cognizant of that history, local Democratic activist Karl Silverman started checking signs out where he lives along Kanuga Road as soon as they started going up. He noted the location of Biden/Harris signs, and sure enough, most had disappeared within a day or two.

Ann McFadden lives in Laurel Park, and has had a similar experience. First, she checked with the police to verify where it was legal to post signs. Then, on Sept. 15, she put one Biden/Harris sign in her yard, and eight more around Laurel Park and along Hebron Road. The next day, six of the signs were gone. The day after that, the one in her yard was missing.

McFadden contacted Laurel Police Chief Bobbie Trotter to report the thefts. In an email, Chief Trotter stated that stealing political signs is a crime, just like stealing any other property. Citing the North Carolina General Statute, she noted that it is a Class 3 misdemeanor to steal, deface, vandalize or unlawfully remove a political sign that has been lawfully placed.

And it’s not just signs being stolen. Signs for Brian Caskey (Democrat running for NC Senate, District 48) and Sam Edney (Democrat running for NC House of Representatives, District 113) have been defaced with spray paint.

In an email exchange, Brian Caskey verified to me that most of the 250 signs his campaign put up in Henderson County have been spray painted, run over or stolen. One perpetrator was caught on a private security camera removing a sign, and Sheriff’s deputies paid that person a visit.
Caskey noticed the destruction started soon after a no-context picture showed someone resembling him removing a sign. It was definitely not him, but the image circulated.
Notably, his opponent, Chuck Edwards, has not responded to a call to condemn these actions.
Caskey also noted, “you have to expect some level of chicanery, but it seems to be a special problem this year.”

In yet other instances, roadside signs have simply been run over and flattened, or pulled down with a rope or chain; yet more wanton vandalism.

So, what to do? The people mentioned in this story, and many others, have reported the thefts to the police and Sheriff’s department, with almost no results. So we call on all city and county residents — and especially Republicans with a sense of fair play — to be on the look out for the perpetrators; be vigilant and protect all the signs, so we can to be showing mutual respect, and occupy common ground.
We must all value everybody’s precious freedom of expression, and cherish our right to dissent peacefully. Stealing and defacing political signs is not the way to do it.

Dawn Kucera is a Democratic Party activist.