Blue paint splattered across the Anderson County GOP Office exterior Saturday night indicates an uptick in suspected politically-motivated damage and theft affecting both major parties.
Doreen Jones, owner of the building at 1118 N. Link St., said the damage cost more than $800 to clean up. Besides the GOP headquarters, the building houses three businesses: East Texas Programming, Paula Staples Insurance, and One Moore Real Estate.
Reviewing footage from the building’s security camera, Jones captured an image of the person’s face and shared it with the police. Jones said she wants the person caught.
“I’m disgusted and disappointed that people would do things like this,” she said. “I don’t understand people who want to destroy something; it serves no purpose.”
Sharon Davis, Anderson County Democratic Party chairwoman, called Paul Stephenson, the Republican party chairman, to offer her condolences.
“Stealing and destroying property is never O.K.,” Davis said. “This is not what our party is about.”
Davis said the blue paint might indicate the vandalism was by a member of the Democratic Party, but the actions do not.
The Democratic Party’s Headquarters at 519 S. Royall St. has not been vandalized, but all its signs disappeared recently after a man driving a white vehicle was seen removing them one evening.
In a different location, campaign workers found a Democratic presidential campaign sign sliced with a knife. Many signs belonging to Marvin Jenkins, Democratic candidate for Constable of Anderson County’s Precinct 2, have also been defaced or stolen. The value of signs damaged and stolen across the city totals more than $300.
Chief of Police Mark Harcrow said he sees signs damaged or stolen every two years during elections, so he expects a certain amount of mischief. Theft of political signs counts as stealing, and damage to signs or property results in a charge of criminal mischief.
This year, the police department has received between five and 10 reports of violations, but Harcrow admits more mischief is happening this election year.
“Things are a little more heated this election year because of the presidential campaign,” Harcrow said.
He cited a profane verb painted next to the President’s name in two highly-visible locations: one on a large campaign sign on Palestine Avenue and another painted onto a bridge under Loop 256. State Troopers handled the bridge vandalism case.
Harcrow said it’s not unusual to hear reports of campaign signs placed on personal property without permission. He said everyone has a right to place political signs on their own property. The chief encourages residents to “respect each other’s views.”
At least one property owner, Dr. Carolyn Salter (D-Palestine), who is running for Texas’ Fifth Congressional District reported in an Instagram video that incumbent Lance Gooden’s (R-Terrell) campaign placed a large campaign sign on her property, which she removed.
Davis said she also sees more political tension this year in social media posts, but does not think increasing conflict helps anyone.
“We’ve got to work together to stop this division,” Davis said. “We may not see eye to eye on the issues, but we’re all Americans, and we need to treat each other with respect.”