Dismay expressed over thefts on private property
Several local candidates in Tuesday’s election were displeased to find out their signs on private property around town have been repeatedly stolen.
This included two candidates for the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board of Education, one candidate running for Goleta City Council and one for Carpinteria City Council.
Elrawd MacLearn, who is running for the Santa Barbara Unified board, told the News-Press that approximately 100 of his campaign signs have been removed from where they were placed.
Considering that Mr. MacLearn’s campaign budget is in the thousands of dollars, that his large campaign signs featuring both him and fellow candidate Brian Campbell cost about $15 and that his smaller campaign signs are around $9, 100 missing signs isn’t small potatoes to him.
“They’re starting to make a dent in real money we’ve spent,” he told the News-Press.
Though he wasn’t pleased with the disrespect displayed by those who have stolen his campaign signs, Mr. MacLearn said such actions are a sign that his political opponents view him as enough of a “contender” to resort to theft and that they are “indicative of my campaign success in this election.”
Mr. MacLearn is running for the school board with the goal of turning the administration’s focus away from ethnic studies and sex ed and back to the basics of reading, writing and arithmetic.
He said of the board’s current focus on social issues, “Not to say that those things aren’t important, but if we don’t have the basics in our district, then we can’t even begin to talk about social issues if we have kids who can’t read and don’t understand math.”
Because he takes people stealing his signs as an indication of his campaign’s effectiveness, Mr. MacLearn is only encouraged to press forward on the home stretch leading up to Election Day.
“It really galvanizes me to push harder in these last three days here and win this race,” he said.
Because campaign sign theft has become such a problem, Mr. MacLearn’s campaign has had to find alternative uses for its remaining signs.
The solution his campaign found was holding “pop-ups,” during which he and his team go to shopping centers with signs in their hands and chat with the public.
He said he will “most definitely” be doing pop-ups around town the next couple days.
Santa Barbara Unified candidate Brian Campbell told the News-Press that it was “a shame” that people would steal campaign signs off of his supporters’ property and thereby interfere with their freedom of speech.
Mr. Campbell gave the News-Press a clip of home security footage that shows what appears to be a woman stealing one of his lawn signs from in front of a supporter’s house, throwing the sign into the back seat of a white SUV, and getting in the passenger seat of the SUV, which takes off thereafter.
“I am disappointed by those that blatantly steal signs,” he stated. “These ‘adults’ set bad examples for our youth by not allowing other people to have a different opinion and express their constitutional right, freedom of speech.”
Goleta City Council candidate Grace Wallace told the News-Press that campaign signs getting stolen has been a problem for her as well. In certain locations, she said her signs have been stolen as much as three times, and that she has had to replace signs at places such as the lawn of the Old Sizzler Restaurant, the Shell gas station on Hollister Avenue and at AC4 Fitness in Goleta.
She added that it was noticeable that whereas her signs have been stolen again and again, other candidates’ signs that stood beside her in these locations haven’t been touched. Though she doesn’t prefer to think that it could be a racially driven slight, she finds it curious that this has only happened to her.
“I don’t like to think that it was racist or because I’m African American, but of course, I feel singled out,” she said.
Carpinteria City Council candidate Mark McIntire had a similar story to tell. A frequent customer of Tyler’s Donuts in Carpinteria, Mr. McIntire put a campaign sign and two campaign pamphlets in the front shop’s window. When he went in on Friday morning, Mr. McIntire was surprised to hear from the shop owner that somebody had removed his campaign materials.
Though understandably unpleased about his campaign signs getting stolen, Mr. McIntire shared Mr. MacLearn’s view that this indicates his opponents fear he might succeed.
“They’re concerned. They hear the footsteps of the conservative libertarians coming down the hallway at them,” he said.
He added that the unlawful removal of campaign signs carries a criminal penalty of a $1,000 fine or up to six months imprisonment.