Nothing outrages a political candidate like the loss of perfectly good campaign signs.
Just ask Ken Littlefield, who is running in the Republican primary for Pasco County commissioner against incumbent Pat Mulieri in District 2. He went straight to his Twitter account after his small roadside signs began disappearing.
"I watched as it took 3 Pasco employees to confiscate 1 of my signs this AM. County government bloated?" he wrote recently. "You bet!! 3 men. . . really?"
Then, a few minutes later, this:
"I have lost over 200 signs to the Democrat controlled unions and county workers. Folks, we need a change! Thanks for your support!"
The anger doesn't spill over quite as much in conversation. Littlefield said in an interview that he figured a number of the signs were in the public right of way — something that he knows runs counter to county code.
"Some of them were," said Littlefield, a former state representative. "You always have super-excited fans who take a handful of signs and put them everywhere."
He hasn't complained to county officials about it. Zoning administrator Debra Zampetti said she sends out letters to political candidates at the start of every season, reminding them that their signs can't be in the right of way.
The county sets aside the larger, more expensive signs in storage. The small signs get dumped.
"It's not like we don't put people on notice," Zampetti said.
Littlefield said employees at a funeral home that is supporting his campaign told him that they saw county zoning officers take at least one of his signs off their private property. He acknowledged, however, that the sign he witnessed three county workers attacking was "probably in the right of way."
As for the "Democrat controlled unions" that are sabotaging his campaign? Littlefield noted that Mulieri "has been endorsed by all the unions, primarily the firefighters. I think they're part of it."
What makes him say that?
"They're worker bees and when they support a candidate that's one of the things they do," he said. (He acknowledged he had no evidence.)
The charge came as a surprise to Ralph Grant, president of Pasco County's unionized firefighters, who have endorsed both Republicans and Democrats in this year's elections.
He didn't think any firefighters have been taking Littlefield's signs.
"They better not be," he said.
Jodie Tillman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 869-6247.