Council candidates in Edmonton see signs vandalized, go missing

A number of candidates running for seats on Edmonton city council have been experiencing the destruction or disappearance of some election signage.

In Ward Métis, Ashley Salvador had a lawn sign lit on fire.

“One of our supporters gave us a call and said my sign has been burned. I was a little surprised someone would resort to burning a sign,” Salvador said.

The council candidate said she was expecting to see some theft and vandalism through the course of her campaign.

“I don’t think it was politically motivated or malicious, really. I do think it was mischief.”

Rhiannon Hoyle, running in Ward Ipiihkoohkanipiaohtsi, also had her campaign material vandalized recently.

The day after a bus shelter ad went up near her home, her husband noticed it had been spray-painted — in particular over her face.

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“It was very disheartening and very frustrating,” Hoyle said.

“I’m running here in COVID. It is a very challenging time to fundraise, a very challenging time to get in front of voters, get that voter contact.”

She said she’s also had her signs ripped off people’s fences, even though she had permission to put them there.

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Other candidates also noted their signs have been removed from supporters’ lawns and private property.

Giselle General, in Sipiwiyiniwak, said she doesn’t drive, so when someone requests a lawn sign, a volunteer has to bring it to them.

When she got a call from a supporter about a sign being stolen, she was upset.

“My immediate reaction is a bit disheartened because these campaigning supplies are not cheap,” General said.

She explained each sign costs her about $6 and noted that she’s working with a very small budget compared to what the incumbent in her ward won with four years ago.

“It took me many years, about three to four years, to start a fund to be able to save money and be able to afford basic campaign supplies.”

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But it’s not just newcomers on the political scene experiencing the problem.

Councillor and mayoral candidate Mike Nickel says his signs are being vandalized weekly, particularly in the Whyte Avenue and university areas.

He feels that this year, it’s worse than any other campaign he’s run, at any level.

“It’s a case of not just graffiti on my signs but just outright destruction. It does get expensive, but we keep putting them back up,” Nickel said.

He said sign theft or damage is especially impactful for those trying to get a foot in the door.

“For a lot of the smaller candidates, it’s money right out of their own wallets. So please, leave their signs be.”

Hoyle agrees.

“It’s just got to stop. We need more decorum. We need more respect.”

Edmonton police say tampering with an election sign is a crime and could result in a mischief charge.

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