LEWISTON, Maine (NECN)-- For the second time, a mayoral candidate in Lewiston has been targeted in a campaign sign controversy. Democrat candidate Ben Chin reports 300, or about one-third, of his campaign signs have been stolen in the last week.
"I think our community is better than this," said Chin.
He said it amounts to about $1,000 in stolen property. "There's certainly no surprise that I had when I woke up and found out that there was something happening out there in the community that was nasty, coming after me," said Chin.
When he ran for mayor two years ago, a Lewiston landlord posted signs that some considered racist, that depicted Chin as "Ho Chi Chin." He said this recent theft could be a sign that local politics has gotten nastier.
His opponent, Republican candidate Shane Bouchard, has had more than 30 campaign signs vandalized in the same time frame. "They're important to the campaign, they're expensive, and I'd love to see people leave them alone," said Bouchard. "It seems like those candidates who have taken firm stands on real issues have become targets."
Lewiston police have issued a warning to the community: tampering with campaign signs can be considered a civil offense and even lead to criminal charges, such as theft.
"I"m taking the attitude that this is even more of a reason to get out and talk about issues even more, campaign even harder, and have even more of a commitment to not stoop to this low ball stuff," said Chin.