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More than just a sign of the times

More than just a sign of the times

Telegraph Editorial

If it is election time in New Hampshire, there's at least one unfortunate guarantee: too many campaign signs will get destroyed faster than old Halloween pumpkins on Nov. 1.
This is a problem that comes every election cycle, and it is a bipartisan issue.

Patricia Klee, of Ward 3, seeking one of her district's seats in the New Hampshire House, said she and her fellow Democrats have had signs stolen.

"I know that we live in a political climate of angry rhetoric, but the removing of a political sign is not a game nor acceptable freedom of speech," Klee wrote.

Republican Steve Negron, of Ward 5, has seen more than 30 of his lawn signs stolen, knocked over or vandalized. One of his campaign signs was allegedly "mutilated" with a knife, he said.

"I don't know why anyone would do that to me," he told The Telegraph on Wednesday. "That's not the way Nashuans should express their political views."

Hollis resident Wayne Bellan had a large, double-sided Donald Trump sign stolen from his front yard in May. He had another one that was set ablaze in the middle of the night.

"They stole that one about three weeks ago," Bellan said of the double-sided sign. "But lighting (the banner) on fire? That's a little crazy."

While many of these destroyed signs have a political agenda behind them, there have been cases across the country that come down to just juvenile hooliganism.

Nevertheless, vandalizing or removing these signs without authorization is against the law. In New Hampshire, there is a $1,000 fine for people who remove signs in addition to possible vandalism charges.

New Hampshire Secretary of State Bill Gardner even said people "have been arrested for removing signs."

There is little law enforcement can do to prevent these petty crimes, save witness a suspect in the act. Ultimately, it comes down to people respecting the political leanings of their neighbors.

Having a one-on-one conversation with them is a much more mature approach than mutilating a yard sign.

"If there's an issue with my signs, they should discuss that with me," Negron said.

Committee to Elect Steve Negron
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