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Abingdon / Edgewood

News Maryland Harford County Abingdon / Edgewood

There's no need for political sign theft, vandalism [Commentary]

It seems like election signs are always up somewhere in Harford County.

There's the presidential election every four years, and in between that are the "mid-term" or "off-year" elections, what I think are more important because we elect the people closest to us – the Harford County executive, the Harford County Council, the state delegates and senators – those we hope will get more done at our level in Maryland than nationally.

Then factor in the municipal elections, which in Aberdeen are in November every four years. Havre de Grace elections are every May, alternating three council members and the mayor with three council members. And in Bel Air, commissioners are elected to four-year terms that are staggered – three commissioners are elected one year, and two others are elected two years later.

So with all those elections, you're bound to see signs up encouraging a vote for this candidate or that one at just about any given time.

Or maybe it just seems like it because we're in the midst of the off-year campaigns. The primary just wrapped up last month and we still have almost four months until the general, so signs are prolific.

Do I like to see them? Not really. They litter the roadsides and serve as distractions to drivers. They clutter up an otherwise pretty countryside – as least as country as Harford County is anymore.

But they're part of the democratic process, I get it.

What I don't get is why people would tear them down, as Bryna Zumer wrote about in The Aegis Wednesday.

A juvenile prank is one thing. Kids with nothing better to do than knock over a bunch of signs is more of a pain than anything. But kids typically aren't selective if they're out on a vandalism binge – they'll knock down any sign they come across, be it an election sign, a home-builder sign, a camp, a gym, a restaurant, it doesn't matter.

But for an opponent, or his supporters, to target a candidate's campaign signs is just reprehensible.

I'm guessing there's a strategy to how campaign signs are erected, like the two signs incumbent Democratic Harford County Council nominee Dion Guthrie put up near the home of his opponent. Guthrie said they were taken down. Another of his signs was "secured to a fence in six to eight places with plastic ties" he said must have been cut.

Art Helton said 40 to 50 of his signs were taken down leading up to the primary – where he lost. About 40 or so signs supporting Harford County Councilman Dick Slutzky's run for council president were also stolen, according to a Harford County Sheriff's Office report.

That doesn't sound like random teenage vandalism. It sounds like someone, or some group of people, trying to sabotage the candidate. But why?

Shouldn't an election be based on a candidates ability to represent his or her constituents? Based on thoughts and ideals? Based on ability to get things done, plans and agendas if elected?

I'm assuming, and hoping, that if the vandalism and thefts are caused by a candidate's supporters, the candidates know nothing about it. If they do, shame on them and there's no reason to vote for them. A candidate who gives tacit approval for such acts has no business representing the people of his or her district.

So why damage or steal the political signs? It's not accomplishing anything. Let the candidates stand on their own merits, with or without signs. Goodness knows we don't need any more to clutter up the sides of the road.

Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun
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