Campaign signs stolen and illegally placed in Eagle County |

Campaign signs stolen and illegally placed in Eagle County

Kathy Heicher
Eagle County, CO Colorado

EAGLE COUNTY ” With only a few days until Election Day, there’s almost as much battling over political signs as there is in the candidate debates in Eagle County, Colorado.

The Eagle Police Department fielded a couple of complaints from the Eagle County Republican Party over the past week about disappearing and damaged political signs. Local GOP Chairman Randy Milhoan reported that five, 4-foot-by-8-foot signs were stolen from Eagle’s Interstate 70 interchange.

He said the signs had been displayed on a fence so that drivers could see them as they passed by. The cost of replacing the signs was estimated at $1,000. There are no suspects in the theft at this time.

A couple of days later, an Eagle woman reported that a campaign sign was stolen from a vacant lot that she owned in the Bluffs subdivision and that a second sign was vandalized.

The woman said that when she was posting a “Women for McCain” sign, a black, long-bed pickup truck drove by and the driver gave her a “thumbs down” sign. The next day, that sign had disappeared, although a McCain/Palin sign was left untouched.

The woman replaced her missing sign. Two hours later, a neighbor reported that the sign had been ripped in half. A sign for county commissioner candidate Dick Gustafson was left untouched.

Again, there are no leads in the case.

Cary Griffin, supervisor for the Colorado Department of Transportation, says his department removes any political signs that are placed on state property. This year, he says both Democrat and Republican signs have been removed.

“We keep them here at the shops,” Griffin said. “We have a lot of them right now, and quite a few banners. They can come and pick them up.

“You cannot put up any signs or advertisements in the CDOT right-of-way.”

Griffin political signs proliferate every election year.

“We’ve warned people, and given them letters stating the rules and our policy. We take the signs, hold them, and give them back,” he said.

Griffin suggested that political candidates put their signs on the inside of the highway fences, off of the right-of-way.

Confiscated political signs can e picked up at Department of Transportation’s offices in Gypsum, Wolcott, and Dowd Junction.

Another property owner at Eagle recently had problems with political signs that appeared on private land without the owner’s permission.

Paul Witt, local spokesman for Eagle River Station, said several “substantial” political signs for Republican candidates were put up on the developer’s property east of Eagle without permission.

“They didn’t have our permission to do it. We didn’t know who had put them up, or where they came from,” he said.

The local Republicans later indicated that they had received permission to place the signs from a man who was leasing some of the land.

The landowners apparently became aware of the signs when the local Democrats called and asked if they too could place signs on the property.

Planning consultant Tom Boni was dispatched to remove the unauthorized signs. Merv Lapin, owner of an adjacent parcel, also asked Boni to remove signs that had been placed on his land.

Witt said a couple of signs got damaged during removal. The land owners offered to pay the Republican Party for the cost of the signs.

“Some folks at the Republican Party got a little upset because we took the signs down without asking them,” said Witt.

He stressed that the Eagle River Station property owners don’t want any political signs on their property.

“There are plenty of other places to put up signs,” he said.

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