Vandalized campaign signs litter streets


At a news conference last Friday, Nassau County Legislator Debra Mulé, the Democratic incumbent in the county’s 5th district who is running for the seat in the redrawn 6th district, joined former Assemblywoman Judy Griffin and Democratic Hempstead Town Board candidate Jasmine Peña in denouncing what they described as the politically motivated destruction of several of their campaign signs.

Two other Town Board candidates, Darien Ward and Susan Collins, both Democrats from Baldwin, also attended.

The vandalism occurred on Oct 19, and the speakers demanded accountability for what they called the targeting of Democratic candidates’ campaign signs in the Town of Hempstead. Many signs promoting Mulé’s candidacy, which were displayed prominently at the intersection of Sunrise Highway and Milburn Avenue in Baldwin, were found cut up and destroyed.

The candidates said they believed the vandalism was intended to undermine Democratic candidates and suppress the public’s right to know who is running for public office.

“I can’t say exactly who did this, but some group of people are going around and destroying signs for Democrats,” Mulé said. “It’s not in the spirit of fair play, and it’s quite frankly not American.”

Mulé also noted the financial implications of the vandalism, because campaign signs are expensive to produce. “We spend a lot of time fundraising for the signs,” she explained. “Those large signs are $70 each, and the lawn signs, which also get stolen all the time, are between $5 and $10 each.”

Ben Jackson, a Republican from Freeport who is running against Mulé for the 6th District seat, said in a statement that the destruction of the signs was “disgraceful” and discouraging. He noted that it had also happened to him.

“I think this is equivalent to a hate crime,” Jackson said, “and should be investigated fully.”

At the news conference, Griffin said this was not an isolated incident, and that she had been the victim of similar vandalism in the past.

“Each year, signs were stolen, really excessively,” Griffin said. “However, what stood out last year was the heightened level of divisiveness compared to the previous two elections. I hadn’t previously noted such a significant rise in stolen signs on the record, but last year it was really on the rise.”

Peña said that she, too, has lost signs to vandals this campaign season. I’ve had signs both in the south side of Freeport and in the north side,” she said. “Most of my signs had been ripped off, ripped up and either tossed in the street or gone missing.”

The vandalism hampers candidates’ efforts to engage with voters, said Peña, who is challenging incumbent Town Councilman Christopher Carini. “They’re ripping up our signs to silence us, especially as a new candidate, considering all the fundraising endeavors we’ve undertaken,” she said. “I would love for both parties to play fair. As a new candidate, my name isn’t out there as much as the … incumbent because of this.”

Carini acknowledged that campaign signs being stolen or vandalized is a problem in every election cycle. He mentioned similar incidents during his previous campaign, and said it is still a problem.

“I don’t think this deters me at all, because if people are taking signs off my supporters’ personal property, that means they’re intimidated by my success,” Carini said. “I’ve given over 2,000 signs out, at this point, to people that want them, and wanted to proudly display them on their lawns.”

The event concluded with a call for a thorough investigation into the destruction of the signs.

“The whole point of displaying campaign signs is to boost name recognition, and for people to see that you’re running,” Mulé said. “If people remove or vandalize these signs, it takes away the chances for people to recognize the candidates.”