The disappearance of campaign signs in the Fifth State House District has at least three of the candidates concerned, about the negative impact it could have on potential voters.
“Even though we say, ‘well hey, that just comes with the territory,’ as long as we continue to say that, it’s going to continue to come with the territory,” said candidate DeAmo Murphy, a community advocate and veteran political consultant who’s advised presidential campaigns. “The reality is that if we’re supposedly not the front runners — at least that’s what you would think — then why are our signs being damaged and not these other people’s signs?”
Murphy said he talked to both Anthony Ewell and Abu Mahfuz and was told they’ve also had signs taken and/or damaged. Both confirmed their signs are being taken.
“This is really disturbing for everybody,” Mahfuz said, adding that some signs are taken from private property.
He also said his signs were stolen three times each from three or four locations. One of those locations was on Ryan between Outer Drive and Eight Mile.
Ewell said he’d just started putting his signs out on July 11, but since then, two of them have come up missing, both on main throughways. One was on Seven Mile and Main, the other on a friend’s lawn at Joseph Campau and Nevada.
Murphy said seven of the eight signs he had on Conant Avenue were removed. The eighth, at the corner of Sobieski, was damaged.
“It’s kicked over, ripped,” Murphy said.
He asked why some candidates’ signs are torn down while other signs remain.
Neither Murphy nor Mahfuz believe the signs are being taken by pranksters and/or kids. Mahfuz said the theft of the signs is well planned. Murphy said it’s unlikely kids are taking the signs, because they aren’t being taken from everybody.
But he does have questions for whomever is taking them.
“If we’re not considered the front runners, what’s so dangerous about our signs?” Murphy asked. “What is it that you don’t want the people to know about us?”
He added that he’s not making any direct accusations, but finds it curious that some signs have been left untouched.
Mahfuz also said he can’t point to any specific suspects.
Ewell said he believes one person is responsible.
“Six of us have talked and we know that it’s not one of us,” Ewell said. “And there’s one candidate who has more signs out than anyone. And one candidate told me all of his signs on Six Mile are gone.”
He added that the candidates are all working hard, doing their diligence, and just trying to be fair and honest doing the campaign and leave it to the voters to decide. He said if a candidate or candidates feel they need an edge by stealing someone else’s sign, that’s not the way someone in elected office should act.
Murphy believes that whoever’s stealing the signs isn’t just stealing from the candidates.
“They’re not just stealing from us; they’re not just stealing from the voters and keeping them from seeing our names and making a choice, they’re also stealing from people who believe in us and donated,” he said.
He added that whether the value of the signs is small or large, stealing them is still a crime.
For his part, Mahfuz said something has to be done.
Ewell said he intends to put his signs back up.
Murphy wants voters to take a look and decide if this is the kind or race they want.
“If you want to wink and accept these kind of tactics as business as usual, then things are never going to change,” he said. “But if you want integrity and change, you’ve got to look at these other candidates in the race, and you’ve only got 10 days or 15 days to do so.”
He said the biggest issue he’s trying to get voters to understand is that we have to change the status quo.
“If you or your people are dirty enough to do these kinds of tactics in the district, how do we trust you to have integrity in Lansing,” he asked. “If you want to win at all costs, how do we know that you don’t have a sell-out point in Lansing?”
Murphy also said there are several good candidates in the race, and that the district would be well served if any of the top five were elected. He said they all can do the job, but the question is, who do people prefer?
At press time, Murphy said that he and three or four other candidates intended to visit some neighborhoods together on July 20 to let people know they are still in the race.
The election is Aug. 3.