Incumbent Assemblywoman Janet Duprey says she's disturbed by the recent defacing of some of her campaign signs along U.S. Route 11.
Her opponents in the race sympathize with her and say that unfortunately, such vandalism isn't uncommon during heated elections.
Duprey is locked in a three-way race for New York's new 115th Assembly District. She'll appear on the Republican and Independence party lines on Nov. 6, Plattsburgh educator Karen Bisso is on the Conservative Party line, and Plattsburgh City Councilman Tim Carpenter is running as a Democrat.
Someone has spray-painted “babby killer” (presumably a misspelling of “baby killer”) on this and about 10 other signs touting Assemblywoman Janet Duprey’s re-election campaign.
(Photo courtesy of Janet Duprey)
Duprey told the Enterprise on Wednesday that some of her campaign signs have been spray-painted with the words "babby killer," the word baby being misspelled. She said she started noticing them around Labor Day but didn't immediately report the apparent vandalism. Several days later, when more popped up, she reported it to state police.
Duprey said state police had picked up about six signs by Sept. 7, but on the following day four or five more signs had been spray-painted. Most of the vandalized signs appeared along U.S. Route 11 in the communities of Ellenburg, Churubusco, Chateauguay, Burke and near Malone, according to Duprey. The vandalized signs weren't reported to the press until after the Sept. 13 Republican primary.
"I'm pretty tough, and I think I've dealt with a lot of things," Duprey said. "I've certainly dealt with death threats before, but they were always anonymous. This is very personal. This is in our neighborhoods. It's in our small towns. It's rattled me."
Alicia Sirk, Bisso's campaign chair, said it's unfortunate that "people feel they can touch, remove, deface and defile campaign signs." She noted that Bisso signs have been removed and replaced with signs for other candidates throughout the campaign.
"Signs are very expensive and there is a lot of time and energy that goes into the production of them, as well as their placement, not to mention the large expense to purchase them and their replacements," Sirk said in an emailed statement. "This happens every year."
Bisso said the statements on the defaced Duprey signs are "vile and illegal, and I do not support it."
Carpenter told the Enterprise that signs often disappear during political campaigns.
"It's sad, but in the end I think that the voters in the district are intelligent enough to understand and look beyond the signs and find out what the candidates are like and pick the one that's best going to represent them," he said.
Carpenter noted that Duprey could benefit from the vandalized signs.
"She'll get a lot of publicity over this," he said.
State police told WPTZ-TV that Duprey is the only candidate to be targeted so far. Police aren't discussing details about the case because it's still under investigation.
Duprey has come under fire from some conservative Republicans who believe she's too liberal, especially when it comes to her stance on social issues like abortion and gay marriage. She said she's pro-choice, not pro-abortion.
"I don't think anybody says, 'We support abortion,'" Duprey said. "What I support is the woman's right to choose, with her doctor, what's proper for her own health care. It deals with contraception, it deals with abortion rights - it deals with women having the choice to make (the decision) they need to for their own health. I see that very different than saying I'm out there fostering and supporting abortion."
This sort of election season vandalism isn't anything new. In 2008, during the presidential election between Barack Obama and John McCain, someone smashed a window at the McCain-Palin headquarters on Main Street, Saranac Lake, where the DownHill Grill is now located. There were also frequent reports of McCain and Obama signs being stolen from peoples' yards.
In the 2009 races for Essex County district attorney and sheriff, signs for nearly every candidate continuously came up missing.
Contact Chris Morris at 518-891-2600 ext. 25 or firstname.lastname@example.org.