Mystery: Campaign signs turn up displaced in North Ogden

Sep 16 2013 - 7:25pm

NORTH OGDEN -- Campaign signs are turning up missing or moved for candidates running for city council and mayor here.

On Sept. 7, city councilman and mayoral candidate Wade Bigler contacted the police department to report that several of his mayoral campaign signs had been deposited in his yard.

Detective Paul Rhoades, with the North Ogden Police Department, didn't say how many signs had been deposited, and Bigler did not return phone messages or emails left by the Standard-Examiner to confirm that information.

Bigler told the responding officer he did not have any suspect information.

"At this time, without any leads as to who is responsible, it is unknown what the intent was of the person or people involved," Rhoades said.

As the signs were not stolen, but were put in Bigler's yard, the offense doesn't meet statutory requirements for a theft. But some of the signs were reported as being damaged, so the case is being investigated as criminal mischief, Rhoades said.

Apparently, Bigler is not alone. Bigler's opponent, Brent Taylor, has also had signs stolen or moved, as have Brian Russell and Phillip Swanson. Lynn Satterthwaite said none of his signs have been stolen, and Jim Urry did not respond to phone calls from the Standard-Examiner. Russell, Swanson, Satterthwaite and Urry are all running for city council.

Swanson thinks more than 20 of his signs have been stolen or moved and said he has seen a couple put in his front yard.

"I don't think it's anything nefarious," said Swanson, adding that he keeps ordering new signs and putting them back out.

Swanson said he spoke with North Ogden Police Chief Kevin Warren about the displaced signs. Warren told him he was aware it was happening, but aside from putting a surveillance camera on the sites, it would be hard to detect who is taking the signs.

Russell said he was told having signs stolen or moved is just standard fare for running for office.

"I'm trying to just ignore it," he said.

Taylor said he doesn't know how many of his signs he has lost, but he is also trying to look past it.

"I think this sign thing is a huge distraction," Taylor said. "I don't want to think any candidate would purposely remove signs."

He has had nothing to do with any sign removal, he said.

"I believe this type of behavior comes from juveniles or 'lone wolf' supporters who take it upon themselves to do something the candidate would not want them to do," Taylor said.

Rhoades said officers have been made aware of the incident (with Bigler) as well as citizen volunteers.

"They have been asked to make extra efforts while patrolling the city to look for anyone who may be tampering with campaign signs," Rhoades said.

Rhoades added that it is not typical behavior for North Ogden residents, but sign tampering has occurred during previous political elections. He would like anyone with information leading to the identity of those responsible for tampering with campaign signs to call NOPD at 801-782-7219.

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