Signs of the times
Posted Nov. 7, 2008
Walter Mansilla
Political yard signs became targets for thieves during the 2008 election campaign. Some neighborhoods were hit hard and lost all of their signs. Candidate signs were not the only signs taken. Proposition 8 signs were also among those removed.

The past election involved many harsh words, promises to be kept, vandalism and theft of political lawn signs.

Complaints were called in to police and to political headquarters with regards to residents’ political party and proposition signs being plucked from their lawns.

Whether the theft was of Obama or McCain signs, both candidates and their supporters fell victim to the barrage of sign swiping.

Many were left asking, “Why the infringement on free speech?”

John Paddock, a La Verne resident, said that he did not experience any type of discrimination for his Obama-Biden sign, nor had he heard of any from his neighbors.

“Those are people that shouldn’t be voting,” Paddock said. “If they destroy things, then they don’t have any respect for any of the candidates.”

“We’ve put out of this headquarters three to four thousand signs,” Elaine Klock, Pasadena Republican headquarters chairwoman, said. “Total neighborhoods would be cleaned out in a night. We were constantly reordering the signs.”

Some were left in the dark as to why these crimes have been occurring.

“Do people really look at the signs, and then that influences them on how to vote?” Matt Mendoza, a Cal Poly Pomona sophomore business management major, asked about the motive of the sign pickpockets. “I really don’t think it matters. It says, ‘Vote for Obama,’ but it doesn’t say why. It’s just a sign.”

The local Democratic headquarters in Pomona reported it had multiple reports of candidates’ signs being stolen.

“It’s a big problem in several areas, not just one,” Rudy Mann, a Democratic Party member, said. “I’ve had 60 people have to buy signs all over again. One woman had to buy them three times already.”

For the Democrats, signs are free of charge, but are distributed upon donation to the party and campaign.

Mann said there is no suggested donation price.

The La Verne Police Department made strides in trying to curb theft by responding, investigating and documenting the cases that residents reported.

With much of the thefts happening at night and at random, culprits were still at large.

But the sign theft did not stop with the candidate signs.

Proposition signs were targeted, as well.

Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage, was probably the most popular and unluckiest of the propositions to fall victim to sign theft.

“I had put a Proposition 8 sign in my yard, and the first one was vandalized,” Jan Gurly of Upland said.

Gurly said she had a total of four signs stolen, including a McCain sign.

“The signs were being stolen left and right,” Kristeen Friend, of Pomona, said. “Everybody I knew had signs stolen.”

Some sign thefts were reported on the University of La Verne campus.

Ami Smith, a senior radio broadcasting major, said there was an on-going war on one of the floors in the Oaks Residence Hall.

Supporters of Proposition 8 and those against it began swapping signs and commentary back and forth until it became a diversion from the civic duty of voting into an exercise of the right to free speech.

A hall meeting took place in an attempt to forge a truce.

“I don’t care who you’re voting for,” Mendoza said. “I’m going to vote for who I’m going to vote for.”

Alex Senyo can be reached at

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