There’s just one more hurdle to overcome when running for public office. And, that’s the vandalism or theft of your political sign.
Problems with political sign vandalism and theft are well known in Utah. And, since the political season is now wrapping up, there is still a problem. [On} Oct. 25, 2021, here in Tooele County, between the hours of 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. four double-sided signs were taken from the approved areas in which I, Adele Connell Young, placed them.
I am missing a total of eight signs which was most of my signage. Despite the inclement weather during this time, the metal on my signs were “snapped” in two or bent into the ground and the signs illegally taken.
It’s frustrating to go through something like this. I was running for the board of the Stansbury Park Improvement District.
I believe my signs represent my first amendment freedom of speech and it was reported as theft to the Sheriff’s Office, Sgt Brandon Light.
Since 2014, stealing or vandalizing political signs violates Utah State Law, “A person is guilty of a class B misdemeanor if the person knowingly removes, alters, defaces, or otherwise vandalizes a sign,” see Chapter 17, Political Campaign Signs 20A-17-101.
In 2016, The Spectrum, a daily newspaper based in St. George, Utah, reported Iron County had numerous political signs taken for individuals running for the Iron County commissioner.
Wayne Hall was one of these candidates and reported that two dozen signs were taken from places he was legally allowed to place them.
Even the position of Lt. Governor is not immune to this kind of vandalism. Barry Short, a Cedar City resident running for this position said all of his signs were taken from the lawn outside his home, according to a Nov 2, 2016 article in the Spectrum.
This problem continued into 2019 as reported in the St. George News. Political sign vandalism and theft occurred with City Council candidate, Gregg McArthur. McCarthur saw his signs defaced by having someone draw horns on his face which was on his political sign. Then, his larger, expensive sign 4’ x 8’ was stolen.
It’s a commentary of our political climate to assume everyone respects other people’s freedom of speech. The Utah State Legislature enacted a law to try and protect political candidate’s freedom in 2014 by enacting “Political Campaign Signs.” But the problem continues today. Our candidates would like to remind us that legally placing a political sign in the ground shouldn’t be such a worrisome issue. Compliance with Utah law and respect for every person’s First Amendment’s rights, is a good reason to not vandalize or steal political candidate signs.
Adele Connell Young