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Pasco candidate's campaign signs stolen, vandalized

One of Paula O'Neil's campaign signs in New Port Richey had slashes through the picture of her face. Another sign in Land O'Lakes had stickers that say "NEXT" covering her eyes. Three more signs — in Hudson, Dade City and New Port Richey — were stolen.

In the past two weeks, the candidate for Pasco clerk of the circuit court has had 10 signs stolen or vandalized. She continues to get new reports about missing or broken signs.

"I'm tired of it," said O'Neil, the current deputy court clerk. "It's getting old."

O'Neil's supporters and campaign volunteers have found damaged signs in all parts of the county.

Outside a home on Moon Lake Road in New Port Richey, one sign was ripped from the ground and thrown over a fence. At County Line Road and East Road in northwest Pasco, a sign was taken and pieces of the wooden frame were scattered on the ground.

In some places, signs for other candidates were left untouched. At Rowan Road and Cecelia Drive, a sign for O'Neil was stolen from its frame. The frame remains standing next to signs for Dan Tipton, O'Neil's opponent in the Aug. 26 Republican primary, as well as for Sheriff Bob White and School Board candidate Kurt Conover.

Volunteers took photos of each damaged sign and sent a report to the Pasco Sheriff's Office over the weekend.

Deputies continue to investigate the vandalism but have not made any connection between the different incidents. No other candidates have filed complaints about sign damage.

"It seems like every campaign year, we have some type of vandalism of that nature," said sheriff's spokesman Kevin Doll.

Replacing each sign costs $150, O'Neil said.

"It's hard to catch this type of crime, but we're trying," she said. "It's very expensive."

Nomaan Merchant can be reached at nmerchant@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6244.

Pasco candidate's campaign signs stolen, vandalized 07/28/08 [Last modified: Monday, August 4, 2008 2:16pm]
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