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franklin county times

Stolen signs raise political integrity questions

Campaign signs are being stolen which questions candidates' intergrity | Nathan Strickland/FCT

A question of dirty politics has already begun circling the county this political season, as several political signs have disappeared from certain designated areas.

The consensus of people believe it may just be teenagers having a little fun, but there have been speculations as to who is the actual culprits who keep stealing political signs year after year.

Franklin County District Attorney Joey Rushing said it seems like it happens every election season.

“There have been some finger pointing and questions to the law regarding the taking of political signs from residential properties as well as designated public hot spots for political signs,” he said.

“No one has ever been caught or prosecuted for taking political signs since I have been here, but there are criminal charges that can be brought up if someone was ever caught stealing.”

Rushing said if a person stole a political sign from a residential yard and was caught in the act, that person could potentially face two charges: trespassing, which is a class C violation punishable by up to 30 days in jail, and third-degree theft of property, which is a class A misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail.

“It’s definitely been a problem in the past for candidates,” Rushing said. “There are some people who get really passionate in the candidate they want to win the race and want to do everything they can to contribute. What those people actually end up doing is hurting their candidate in the long-run, because his integrity becomes up for debate.”

One of the hot spots candidates have claimed to see signs missing from is where Franklin 81 meets Franklin 82. Suspicions of dirty politics died down a bit after multiple political signs were taken from the area.

Rushing said there are state rules and city guidelines in some areas where a politician could have potentially broken and overstepped their bounds and, instead of stolen, signs were taken up by officials from the area.

“There are certain state guidelines that must be followed on certain state and county roads for putting up signs,” Rushing said. “Officials in Red Bay have established an ordinance in their town and have designated only five spots where politicians can place signs in the city limits. If signs were any place else they would be picked up by town officials.”

Russellville officials have discussed designating places for signs but rules were never put in place.

Rushing said Colbert County has been suffering from the same type of issues, but instead of stealing the entire sign, vandals have cut out the names on the signs, which if caught a criminal mischief charge would be thrown into the mix.

“The main thing is that people should just show respect to each candidate by leaving the signs alone,” Rushing said.

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