As political signs pop up around the Central Kenai Peninsula signaling that election season is in full swing, some Soldotna residents are noticing what they believe to be is the systematic removal of the advertisements.
Mary Toutonghi said whoever is illegally taking the signs is targeting democratic candidates and legislature. They are also being taken from private property, she said.
“It needs to stop,” Toutonghi said. “We don’t want to have to go so far as to prosecute, but it does qualify as vandalism.”
Richard Waisanen said he has been helping place signs around the city for about a month. The first to be removed were knocked over and piled nearby from where they were erected at the Soldotna “Y.”
Waisanen said that when installing political signs within the city it is important to be aware of the size of the right-of-ways bordering the city’s streets. They range between three and 30 feet, he said.
Waisanen said he checked with the city to make sure it was not them removing the signs, and that they were properly posting them outside of the right-of-ways. The Planning and Zoning department said they have not touched the signs.
Toutonghi, Frank Mullen and Megan Lacross reported a number of signs were stolen including nonaffiliated candidate Eric Treider for Senate District O, Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 1 to repeal Senate Bill 21, Sen. Mark Begich D-Alaska, and Democrat Byron Mallot for Governor. Waisanen said.
“As our Vote Yes on One campaign does not have the funds to compete with the oil companies Vote No campaign, signs are the one way we can get our message out in the public,” Waisanen said. “This is an expression of free speech that whoever is stealing our signs is denying us.”
Waisanen said Toutonghi has contacted the Soldotna Police Department twice in concern to the missing signs.
Soldotna police officer Mark Berestoff said the department has not received any calls regarding the thefts.
Kelly Sullivan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org