By Don Iler • News Editor • 

Candidates swap sign complaints

Mary Starrett found a crowbar near where signs supporting her run for Yamhill County commissioner had been ripped from the ground. 

The signs were located on Highway 240, Starrett said. She said she’d also had signs stolen Highway 18, destroyed in McMinnville and torn in half in Newberg.

Just like spring rain stirred flowers from the land, political signs sprouted along with the lilacs and daffodils. But someone, or some people, have treated the signs more like dandelions, striking them down with the metaphorical weed whacker of a crowbar or their own hands. 

It has also shown a county commissioner race that has grown hot, with both sides finding missing or destroyed signs and freely suggesting who might be at fault. And it does, indeed, cut both ways.

Rich Elkins was turning onto Lafayette Avenue from Highway 99W on April 19 when he encountered a man in a white SUV plastered with Starrett placards. He was busy tossing signs in support of Starrett opponent Debra Bridges into a nearby Dumpster.

“I asked him, ‘What the heck is going on?’” Elkins said. “The man said, ‘This is a Republican corner. Get your own corner.’”

When he moved to retrieve the signs from the Dumpster, he said, the man told him he shouldn’t.

Farmer and landfill critic Ramsey McPhillips said he was the one who placed the Bridges signs at that corner, and he said he had permission. He said disappearance of Bridges signs around the county had reached “epidemic” proportions as election day nears.

Bridges’ husband, John, said he had discovered some of his wife’s signs destroyed and dumped in a roadside ditch twice last week along Highway 18. He said their campaign had permission for those signs, but someone had broken the stakes, cut the zip ties and tossed them.

Bridges said it was frustrating.

“Volunteers are using their time to place the signs, and are seeking permission from landowners to place them,” she said. “When people choose to remove them for whatever reason, it’s dismissive of the political process.”

Starrett said her campaign isn’t blaming opposing campaigns and hopes they will give her the same benefit of the doubt in return.

“I’m really trying hard to give some grace,” said Starrett, who is making her second bid after losing narrowly four years ago. “The people who are doing this are going above and beyond anything I have seen before.”

She said she has heard several versions of Elkins’ story, and says it seems to keep changing.

Ballots for the May 20 primary election were slated to go into the mail Thursday, so should begin showing up today. Voters have until 8 p.m. May 20 to get them returned. 



Don Dix

And 'some people' would have you believe these county commission races are non-partisan! How naive!


Whether the races are 'partisan' or not, individual passions run deep. The theft and destruction of political signs occurs every election. Several years ago, I became aware of one county commissioner candidate whose daughter used to brag, at school, about how many signs of her father's opponent they collected and burned on their own property. The candidate lost that election, but a few years later his wife was caught stealing signs for another election. It was an embarrassing and sad comment on desperate measures taken by folks who should know better.

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