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Norwalk ‘silly season’ begins with the campaign sign thefts

The election is Nov. 7.

NORWALK, Conn. — Campaign signs are disappearing, as they often do as election season heats up.

Two Republican candidates, independent mayoral candidate Lisa Brinton Thomson and Mayor Harry Rilling said their signs have been stolen.

Three people on that list have made the problem public on Facebook, while Rilling said it in response to a question from NancyOnNorwalk.

Norwalk Police Detective Mark Suda, a Republican candidate for Common Council at large, was first with a Tuesday Facebook post.

“Hey Folks, I’m officially putting out an APB. For all of you that don’t know what that is, it means All Points Bulletin. Over the weekend my team put out 125 lawn signs. As of today 16 had been stolen. I need all of you guys to be on the look out,” Suda wrote.

“Mark, mine are being stolen as well – pathetic! However, yours is still in my yard,” Thomson replied, explaining further in a post on her own page:

“The silly season has officially begun! I have reports that 10 of my campaign signs signs were stolen this morning from the Cranbury and West Norwalk neighborhoods. One resident reported seeing the individual in the act! What frustrates me is that these individuals are stealing from residents of Norwalk who have donated to my campaign. The signs were stolen from the homes of Ds, Rs and Us. My candidacy is not about ‘party.’ It’s about Norwalk! Whoever thinks they are helping ‘their’ candidate – they are not – they are only being dishonest and jeopardizing the democratic process. To those of you who have reported stolen signs, they will be replaced. Our campaign will not be deterred. I also ask each of you to watch your neighborhoods and report car, license plate or description of those partaking in this nonsense. The other candidate campaign gets a pass today, but if it continues, we will report it to the police. On the other hand…I guess I should be flattered that the status quo are threatened by my unaffiliated candidacy, as this campaign is the closest Norwalk residents will get to a REFERENDUM on the ‘system’ and business as usual. If so inclined, please feel free to share this post  🙂 Thanks!”

Board of Education member Artie Kassimiss, running to represent District C on the Common Council, responded to Thomson to say that he had three signs stolen.

“This has happened every year to me and our Common Council candidates,” Rilling said in an email. “It happens each election cycle to all candidates. I never cast blame in any direction because I do not believe any responsible adult would stoop to that level. I’ve personally had at least 12 signs stolen this year. I simply have them replaced rather than suggest any other candidate is responsible.”

Thomson did not respond to an email asking if the person who was seen taking the sign was a Democrat.

“Trust me whoever or whomever is stealing these signs. YOU WILL BE CAUGHT,” Suda wrote in his Facebook post. “Not only will you get caught you have enhanced my desire and fire to win this election!!! I have 1500 lawn signs keep it up!! We have two of you on video and have a vehicle with a plate as well, trust me you will be embarrassed!!! So to all of my supporters and friends be on the lookout and let’s confirm who this is!! A lot of my Politician friends have said the other side always steals a strong candidates signs during the pre election. Well you just made me stronger!! #youwillgetcaught #youwillbeembarrassed”

Kelly DePanfilis, daughter of Judge of Probate for the Norwalk-Wilton District Tony DePanfilis, replied, “happens to the best…. my old man didn’t deserve it but it happen to him and worse.. he tried to not let him bother him or think too much into it.. {…}, my mama said.. if she could offer one piece of advice {…} its to not put out all ur signs at one time.. for that purpose.. they get stolen, go missing, get ruined.. then you will end up spending a lot of money far in advance.. blahhh politics”

5 comments

M. Murray September 18, 2017 at 7:25 am

I believe one of the thieves has already been identified through Facebook. They weren’t the brightest and posted themselves in the act on a Snapchat account.

Hugh Sling September 18, 2017 at 12:11 pm

A number of Rilling signs are positioned upon what appears to be city property (outside the sidewalk, next to the utility pole etc). Is that legal?

M Roverts September 18, 2017 at 1:25 pm

Most of the candidates signs are within what is considered city property. I guess theres no issue with it but put up a sign for your farm and you’ll make headlines for violating the city sign code.

Debora Goldstein September 22, 2017 at 5:26 pm

Wanna know why Sign-gate is exhibit A in a need for PROFESSIONAL CITY MANAGEMENT?

Not a single employee polled in a week’s worth of newspaper articles about this (including the Mayor) has noticed that Bruce Chimento is enforcing an ordinance for which enforcement lies with the Building Inspector.

The one cited repeatedly is “no sign of any kind shall be erected, placed, maintained or displayed within the outside limits of any street or highway in the City of Norwalk.”

The full text of that is ““Except as provided below, no sign of any kind shall be erected, placed, maintained or displayed within the outside limits of any street or highway in the City of Norwalk.” It appears in Chapter 21-18, which applies to BILLBOARDS AND SIGNS and goes on to lay out requirements for wall signs, marquee signs, electric signs, permit requirements for signs, fees for the permits for those signs, etc. The enforcement mechanisms throughout this chapter reference the Building Inspector, not the Public Works Director.

In the past, municipal campaigns have been advised to remove signs by the enforcement officer Mr. Schwarz pursuant to Chapter 95-3 under STREETS AND SIDEWALKS, which reads “The [Public Works] Director is hereby authorized to take such action as he deems necessary to ensure that all public grounds, streets, highways, sidewalks, and other thoroughfares in the City are, to the extent REASONABLY possible, clear of obstructions and nuisances and free from danger to persons or property.” [EMPHASIS MINE].

Do you consider this activity reasonable? See anything about removing everything from every last inch of the City’s Right of Way on private property (as opposed to keeping city property clear of obstructions and nuisances)?

NOW, How confident are you that this city is making the best use of your tax dollars?

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