Destruction of campaign signs crosses party lines

Election

COLORADO SPRINGS — Vandalism, destruction, or theft of campaign signs is nothing new in the lead up to an election, but local candidates who have been involved in multiple elections say they are replacing more signs than they have in years past – and they say the methods seem a bit more extreme.

“You expect to lose a sign or two no matter what, something’s going to happen, but when you lose 10 to 12 signs, it’s more than just a petty mischief, or a teenager. It’s concerted efforts,” State Representative Larry Liston said.

Liston said as many as a dozen of his signs, which cost more than $100 to create, have been destroyed. The Republican was representing House District 16 and is now running for Senate District 10.

The campaign sign vandalism is not exclusive to the republican party.

Stephanie Vigil, a Democrat running for the now-vacant House District 16 seat, said all of her large signs have been defaced in some manner. Her signs, she estimates exceed $50 to print, have been painted over, drilled to the ground, and even removed – sometimes with a political rival’s sign planted on top.

“That’s the one that starts to feel threatening almost,” Vigil said. “It seems so needlessly aggressive.”

The city requires permits before signs can be placed in a public right of way. Vigil obtained four permits throughout the city, Liston has more than 40.

Both candidates have replaced their signs, in some locations multiple times. Liston is an incumbent and Vigil has been involved in local campaigns in years past, but with limited name recognition, she says the signs are even more significant.

“The presidency, we know their names. The senate race, we know their names already,” Vigil explained. “For a lot of people, they just need to see the candidate’s name a couple of times to, at least, have them in the back of their mind, so that when they get their ballot, they know to look them up and at least give them some consideration.”

Both Liston and Vigil have condemned the vandalism and other destructive actions taken against campaign signs. But Liston said it isn’t his doing, or that of his volunteers.

“I could care less about Ms. Vigil and her whining and pissing and moaning of which I am aware,” he said. “We don’t touch the Biden signs, I could care less. It’s not going to change anybody’s mind or change anybody’s vote because you damaged or destroyed their signs.”

Liston’s sign troubles extend beyond vandalism this year. Currently there are two open complaints filed with the Secretary of State’s office alleging his campaign’s signs do not include proper financial disclosure as required by state law.

FOX21 crews found several large Liston signs on Thursday without that disclosure, plus others that did have a sticker designating how they were paid for. Liston said after contact from the Secretary of State’s office, he and his campaign are working to fix all the signs.

“Some of the signs are five or six years old, and that was not required back in 2016,” he explained.

A spokesperson for the Secretary of State’s office says it does not comment on open complaints.

Vigil said she did reach out to Colorado Springs Police about her campaign signs, but says she was told that without surveillance, witnesses, or the perpetrator turning themselves in, there is not much they can do.

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