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'Organized and targeted': Election signs damaged, stolen

'I think it’s a pretty tight race and I have a lot of signs out there. I think there are a lot of people in Barrie who don’t want to see me mayor,' says Mike McCann
Mike McCann is shown with his damaged election sign at the corner of Hurst Drive and Cox Mill Road in south-end Barrie on Friday.

It’s literally a sign of the times.

Two candidates for Barrie mayor say 200 or more of their election signs have been stolen or damaged.

Mike McCann says more than 200 of his signs have been stolen, damaged, knocked over or tossed, as the campaign for Barrie mayor heads into the stretch run toward election day on Oct. 24.

“This is a crime that is organized and targeted,” he told BarrieToday on Friday morning. “I think it’s a pretty tight race and I have a lot of signs out there. I think there are a lot of people in Barrie who don’t want to see me mayor.

“My first thought was to blame a candidate (for mayor). That’s not fair. Whoever is behind this, please shake your head and understand this will not stop me," McCann added. 

Alex Nuttall, Barry Ward, Gerry Marshall, Andrew Gordon, Weldon Hachey and Rob Haverson are also running for Barrie mayor.

Natasha Halikas, Nuttall’s communications director, said roughly 200 of their signs have also been damaged or stolen.

“It is discouraging and disappointing, but happens during every campaign,” she said. “We ordered an over-run of signs in anticipation. Although we have no speculations as to who the culprits are or what their motive is, some of our volunteers have witnessed people stealing and damaging signs.

"Our campaign team has advised volunteers not to get involved for their own safety. We have not gone to the police, we are just focusing on replacing and installing signs," Halikas added. 

“It's extremely unfortunate and difficult for our sign volunteers to keep up with new installs, let alone replacements,” Nuttall said. “I hope the culprits are caught.”

McCann said signs at his three properties in Barrie have been stolen and that one property with a sign also had a bird bath damaged.

The two-term city councillor said he doesn’t believe any of his opponents are responsible for the missing or misplaced signs, as they also know how expensive signs are to buy and place throughout the city.

McCann said he filed a report with Barrie police on Thursday about the missing signs.

Peter Leon, communications co-ordinator with Barrie police, confirmed McCann had spoken to police.

“Damage to signage would be mischief and removal of a sign would be considered theft if it is on a person’s property,” Leon said. “Occurrences involving election signage occurs whenever there is an election.”

Ward said some of his signs have gone missing, but not on the scale of McCann’s loss.

“I’ve had a few reports of my election signs disappearing, but not a lot. I have no idea who was responsible,” Ward said. “I’ve noticed while campaigning that there are a lot more security cameras on private residences these days. I hope they can be helpful in determining who is responsible if someone is removing election signs. It is never acceptable.”

Marshall said he’s had a few problems, but not many.

“I have had a modest amount of damage, but not more than what I anticipated may occur,” he said. “All of my sign locations were pre-approved by the property owners and our team was diligent in placing them appropriately so as to meet all city requirements. So no real issues of concern for me.”

Gordon said he hasn’t had any lawn signs stolen or knocked over.

“My campaign is almost 100 per cent centred around online advertising,” he said. “As for who is responsible, I would suspect it’s probably one or a few people that don’t think very highly of him (McCann). I’m sorry that Mike is dealing with that problem and I hope it gets resolved swiftly.”

McCann said he realized last Monday, Oct. 3, that he had about 30 signs missing and since then another 200 are gone. Regular signs cost about $5, he said, the H-frames are $1 or $1.50 each and his large signs cost approximately $30.

McCann said he will replace the stolen or damaged signs. He said he does not know how many total signs he has out.

With Mayor Jeff Lehman not seeking re-election, Barrie will elect a new mayor on Oct. 24, as well as eight councillors and school board trustees. 

Ward 7 Coun. Gary Harvey and Ward 5 Coun. Robert Thomson were acclaimed when no candidates ran against them.