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Cornelius News

Political signs come and go with wind, landscapers, thieves

Sign guy caught in the act at KS Audio. He later emailed Miltich an apology

​Oct. 13. It looks like it wasn’t the Russians trying to influence who is elected to Cornelius’ greatest deliberative body come Nov. 7. Town Commissioner Mike Miltich, a physician, says the dark-haired man who was caught on video stealing his campaign signs was just a regular guy who happened to have been married by a man named “Dr. Mike.”

Miltich’s signs say “I like Dr. Mike.” So, naturally, a man who treasures his wedding day needs to have not just one  Miltich sign, but two.

Cornelius Police were called, thanks to a stealth video camera on the side of the KS Audio Video building where the case of the purloined signs unfolded.

“​Th​e police office​r​ who went to his house reported to me that he ​had a stream of texts between the thief and the minister ​’​Dr​.​ Mike.​’​ ​He was basically a nice guy and not political​,” Miltich said.​ The dark-haired man who liked Dr. Mike’s signs had to give them back.

Political signs disappear all over Cornelius, but it’s a hazard of the trade, says Mayor Pro Tem Woody Washam.

“You just buy extra signs because some always disappear… it’s all part of the experience,” says Washam who is running unopposed for mayor. He has signs up anyway.

Miltich says signs cost around $7 each. Candidates routinely place upwards of 100 of them, so each one matters.

Favored places are busy commercial stretches, near Town Hall and intersections where cars stop at right lights.

Signs get knocked down storms or removed by commercial mowers, according to incumbents Jim Duke and Thurman Ross.

Challenger Michelle Ferlauto said her “very first planted sign” lasted little more than a day in downtown Cornelius.

When she spots her signs down, she puts them back up, along with opponents whose signs are also down. “I’ve pulled Ava Callender’s, Denis Bilodeau’s and Jim Duke’s from behind the transformers on the corner by Jack’s Corner Tap two nights ago,” she says.

First-time commission candidate Kurt Naas says “a couple supporters in The Peninsula woke up to find my sign pulled up and thrown on their front lawn.”

Nevertheless, he says he’s certain none of the candidates are the culprits.

He’s no fan of the signs anyway. “They’re a pain to put in, clutter up the neighborhood and I get a $50 fine for every one I don’t pull up within 10 days after the election. So why do it? Because it’s an inexpensive way to raise awareness. And in a low-turnout election, that’s key,” he says.

Sign-stealing happens everywhere. Google “stealing political signs” and you get 1.6 million results.

Would-be commissioner Richard Stilwell might have the most sensible approach. He holds his sign when he stands on a busy part of West Catawba or Catawba.

No one could possibly take it without a fight.