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Signs stolen, dumped at beach

Politicians understand that some of their political signs are necessary casualties in a campaign, but three Bainbridge City Council candidates have recently been victimized by a political plunderer.

Debbi Lester, Dee DuMont and Kirsten Hytopoulos had a combined 46 campaign signs taken at the end of September.

The candidates learned of the theft after Hytopoulos’ treasurer located several signs in the water at Manitou Beach. The candidates said they believed the same person had stolen all the signs because they were tied together in the water.

“It was very odd because there were so many taken, all by the same person; they were all dumped in the same place and they were all placed together,” DuMont said.

Lester lost 23 signs, Hytopoulos had 17 taken and only six of DuMont’s were missing.

Bainbridge Police Lt. Sue Shultz said there are no suspects. She said in every election signs get stolen.

Police were unaware of a motive behind the campaign crimes, and the candidates don’t want to see a repeat incident.

“I think it doesn’t really matter why, we just hope it doesn’t happen again,” Hytopoulos said.

ssified as a felony, based on the monetary value of the stolen signs.

The candidates said they were able to retrieve and reuse most of the signs.

Each sign costs about $3, the candidates said. Hytopoulos said she ordered 100 signs total.

While that dollar figure isn’t back-breaking for the candidates, DuMont said placing the signs is time-consuming, and they are ordered and purchased before money is raised.

“It takes time to design them, and you have to do it way in advance before you get any money,” DuMont said.

Several of the candidates said they don’t like political signs and only bought and put them up because their competitors did so.

“All the candidates respect that the island isn’t hot on signs; I certainly don’t like to look at them,” Hytopoulos said.

Lester wouldn’t mind if political candidates decided to avoid signage in the future. She didn’t use any during the primary season, but as the general election approached and signs for her competitor sprang up around the island, Lester decided to follow.

“Personally, I wasn’t too hip on doing signs, but my opponents had gone for it,” she said. “In the future, it would be great if candidates made a pact to not visually pollute the island with all this signage.”

James Olsen, a critic of the Bainbridge Island School District’s bond levy, also complained to police about the removal or defamation of 33 signs at seven different island locations. He said in his statement that while he didn’t have any specific suspects, several signs had been removed and replaced by “YES, Children!” placards. He said the value of each sign was $10.

The proliferation of signs this election season led to the city sending a reminder about sign placement.

Signs are not allowed on crosswalks, medians, roundabouts or anywhere that could distract drivers. Signs aren’t allowed on public buildings or structures. They may only be placed in a public right-of-way if the poster has permission of the abutting property owner. The city may remove political signs if they are in violation of these rules.

DuMont, who lost the least amount of signs, said while it’s sad to see candidates losing merchandise they put their money into, the signs only have a lifespan of three more weeks.

“It’s not like you can use them again,” she said.

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