Politicians frustrated by sign thefts

Published 6:43 pm Saturday, May 8, 2004

By By Chuck Bodiford Publisher
As the June primary rolls nearer, you might have noticed that more political signs are being displayed, asking for your vote.
Local political candidates hope using these signs will get their names out in the public consciousness and show the support they have from area voters.
But the small, lightweight, screenprinted signs are easy targets for vandalism and misuse.
Even though these signs advertise candidates for different positions such as a county commissioner, school board member or district attorney they all have two things in common. The signs cost money to be made and take effort to distribute, candidates said. According to DeeDre Kelly, wife of Joey Kelly, the signs cost approximately $2.25 a piece for the smaller size signs you mainly see in the yards of supporters and $7.00 a piece for the larger signs seen around in other parts of town. Also she says that usually a candidate can expect to purchase at least 200 signs during their campaign.
Based on those numbers, a candidate can expect to pay at least $450 dollars for signage during a typical campaign.
"Candidates work very hard at putting these signs out. I know that for me and Joey we only had two other adult friends and two kids who are 11 and 12 years of age, helping us distribute our signs," said DeeDre. "It's just not right that these kids or even adults come along and tear them down or take them."
According to Kelly, who verified with Jimmy Dean, the taking of the signs is an actual crime classified as a third degree felony. Chief Jason Dean of the Atmore Police Department said if the police caught someone in the act, they would prosecute to the fullest extent of the law.
Jimmy Dean, who is running for a position as a school board member said, " It is my intent on pursuing legal action to prosecute anyone that has taken one of my signs or any of the other candidates' signs after it is determined that they, have in fact, acted in illegal behavior."
DeeDre Kelley said, "I just ask that if someone finds some of the signs laying around just give us a call at the shop or whoever the sign belongs to and we'll be glad come and get them, rather than just throwing the signs away."

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