Ken Dickson, candidate for a seat in the State Assembly in the newly created 67th District, and his campaign workers knew the race would be a challenge. They just didn't count on this.
Alex Ramirez, Dickson's campaign manager, said that in the last month, staff members have had to replace more than 20 damaged campaign signs posted around Menifee. Most were posted alongside Scott Road, Antelope Road and Haun Road. He said the Dickson campaign has lost about 13 small signs and eight big signs at an expense of approximately $550.
Very few were stolen. Most were left on site with obvious damage. Some were cut, others partially buried, and some apparently were urinated on.
Only one was tagged by juveniles. Ramirez, who filed a report with the Menifee Police Department on Tuesday, believes this is more than simply childhood pranks.
"These signs are tough to cut," Ramirez said. "You can see someone tried to puncture them. You can't just do it with a simple blade. To cut a sign and urinate on it ... that's a little more than just a kid.
As he continues to address the public on key issues heading toward the June 5 primary, Dickson is trying his best not get distracted by the sign vandalism.
"I take that as a compliment -- I just wish they would find a different way to compliment," said Dickson, a Republican who is a member of the Murrieta Valley School District Board of Trustees and law professor at Mount San Jacinto College.
Ramirez said the staff plans to monitor the sign locations and try to capture the vandals on film.
"We will try to handle this amicably," Ramirez said. "If we find these individuals, we will ask them to stop, and if it continues, we will release the video."
Ramirez said he was told by Officer Beard of the Menifee Police Department that such vandalism to campaign signs is a felony and could include other charges. The police department will monitor the affected areas and supports the campaign staff's plan to catch the vandals on video.
"There's been a lot of mudslinging in this campaign," Ramirez said. "Name calling, things like that. It's gotten ugly at times, but we've tried to stay away from the fray. I don't know if this is someone's effort to draw us into the situation or what."