By Mayor Paul Bailey
Sometimes political candidates resort to desperate measures to seek attention. Such seems to be the case with the information provided by candidates to the Matthews-Mint Hill Weekly in last week’s article about vanishing campaign signs. Today I will set the record straight about the disappearance of campaign signs and the desperate measures taken by candidates John Higdon, Mark Tofano and Ken McCool.
John Higdon misled the paper and the voters with his comments. The Weekly reported, “Higdon filed a police report when he saw his campaign signs in a dumpster outside of a local business but said he believes the disappearance of signs is a separate instance specifically directed toward him.” The paper then attributed this quote to Higdon, “It’s obvious that I was being targeted when every sign I have placed is gone.”
John Higdon was being intentionally deceptive. Higdon did find a dumpster with signs. He took a picture of those signs and sent it to two of the town commissioners. His picture shows signs from the campaigns of Barbara Dement, John Urban and Mark Tofano. No Higdon signs are visible in the photo. But even if his signs were in the dumpster, it is clear he was certainly not singled out or solely targeted.
Furthermore, the dumpster and signs were on private property. Higdon is not a rookie in politics and he surely knows that signs placed on private property without permission are subject to be removed by the owner. It seems obvious Higdon deliberately lied to the paper to gain voter sympathy. If we can’t trust him to be honest in a little matter like this, how can we trust him to be mayor?
Rookie candidates Mark Tofano and Ken McCool also speculated their signs may have been stolen. Tofano went so far as to strongly imply that his signs were being stolen by someone associated with my campaign. This claim is without any merit or proof but is consistent with Tofano’s approach to campaigning over the past several months.
Are Tofano and McCool being dishonest with the voters or simply demonstrating their complete ignorance? Regardless, it is hard to imagine the voters being ready to trust these two with elected leadership.
Candidates place signs out to build name recognition. Signs are expensive, so candidates are rightfully frustrated when signs disappear. But often the loss is the candidate’s own fault.
Signs are often lost to commercial mowers. These workers are not obligated to mow around or move the signs. Some signs are placed in off-limits locations and are removed by enforcement personnel. Some candidates place signs on private property without permission and the owner removes them. Some signs disappear due to vandalism, but typically these individuals are not targeting candidates for political reasons and may not realize it is a crime to remove them.
Higdon, Tofano and McCool were told by the Matthews Police Department that these were the likely reasons for their signs vanishing, not because of politically motivated theft. Knowing this lets us see just how deceptive these candidates were being with the newspaper.
Inexperienced candidates often resort to excessive blitzing of signs. In one stretch on John Street, many candidates each have one sign but Tofano has more than 10 in that space. McCool often places three signs in places where other candidates have just one. Of course, we all recognize this as the effort of desperate candidates with little chance of winning. The same desperation behind their effort to deceive the voters in last week’s news story.
Paul Bailey is the mayor of Matthews.