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Sign theft, vandalism raise South Whidbey school board candidate ire

Betty Bond stakes one of her campaign signs after vandals removed and damaged several over the past couple of weeks. She is running for the South Whidbey School Board against Rocco Gianni, who also had trouble with campaign sign destruction.  - Celeste Erickson / The Record
Betty Bond stakes one of her campaign signs after vandals removed and damaged several over the past couple of weeks. She is running for the South Whidbey School Board against Rocco Gianni, who also had trouble with campaign sign destruction.
— image credit: Celeste Erickson / The Record

Candidate Rocco Gianni had some heated words for those stealing candidates’ signs during a South Whidbey School Board meeting Wednesday.

Gianni said seven of his campaign signs have gone missing and has heard his opponent, Betty Bond, has lost some as well.

Gianni and Bond are running for Position 5 on the school board. The seat is currently held by Jill Engstrom, who has decided not to seek reelection.

Defacing, destroying and stealing signs is “not cool,” he said during a public comment period. Gianni said some signs had profanity written on them, while others were thrown in yards and stolen.

“If you’re an adult, shame on you,” he said. “If you’re a student, I’m embarrassed … this is not what I taught you in my classes.”

Bond said she was not sure how many or if her signs were stolen or vandalized. As to why this might have happened, there are only theories at this point, she said.

“Vandalizing is immature behavior,” she said. “But it’s not the focus of the campaign.”

She said she wants people to know that political signs are paid for by those who invested in her campaign, not her.

Bond said the sign issue is small; her experience and qualifications are what people need to be focused on, she said.

“The signs are not the focus of our message,” she said. “The message is the focus of the sign.”

Gianni said these actions are no way to treat a new resident, referring to Bond, and he is embarrassed by these actions. 

Gianni asked the perpetrators to stop the vandalism. He also requested any person who witnesses a theft or vandalism in action to call him at 360-321-8711.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown said vandalism or the destruction of private property is illegal and wants people to report these actions.

The difficulty in these cases is being able to solve it, he said.

If a person witnesses the vandals and is able to provide identification and proof, then it could lead to an investigation, he said.

Under state law — RCW 29A.84.040 — a person who removes or defaces lawfully-placed political advertising, such as yard signs, is guilty of a misdemeanor. Each item is considered a separate violation and is punishable up to 90 days in jail or a fine up to $1,000.

 

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