- The Washington Times - Monday, November 3, 2003

The weekend before Election Day took a toll on campaign signs and the workers who put them up — including one Loudoun County, Va., volunteer who was struck by a car after a dispute with a political rival, police said.

Loudoun County police responded to the incident at 1:26 a.m. Friday, but a spokesman said no charges were filed.

Virginia House of Delegates candidate Richard H. Black said one of his campaign workers, Ward Fetrow, confronted a man removing signs at the corner of Lowes Island Boulevard and Algonkian Parkway.

After words were exchanged, the unidentified sign remover reportedly got into his car and struck Mr. Fetrow with the vehicle, sending him airborne across two lanes. Mr. Black, Loudoun County Democrat, heard about the incident when Mr. Fetrow called him the next morning.

The incident left Mr. Fetrow scraped and bruised but not seriously hurt. Mr. Black said he would not be intimidated by violence. “I have been involved in campaigns for many years, and this is the first time anything like this has happened,” he said.

Mr. Black, the incumbent, is running against Republican David M. Hunt for the 32nd District seat. Other Northern Virginia campaigns also reported vandalism of signs in recent weeks. Ian Marquardt, campaign manager for Gerald E.

Connolly, a Democrat running for chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, complained that signs had been destroyed for weeks. On Sunday, volunteer Rick Bockner confronted someone on Chain Bridge Road who was removing Mr. Connolly’s yard signs.

According to Mr. Marquardt, the man responded by threatening Mr. Bockner with wire cutters. At 2:24 p.m.Sunday, according to a Fairfax County police spokeswoman, a passer-by reported a possible physical altercation among two men and a woman over election signs. The report said the individuals were throwing the signs into the roadway.

“This is the most vicious we have ever seen,” Mr. Marquardt said. “We have had signs cut up, thrown down and stolen.” He recalled seeing one large 4-by-4-foot sign that had been spray painted and thrown into the woods. A typical yard sign costs a campaign about $1.25.

“The monetary cost to the campaign is one thing,” Mr. Marquardt said, adding that such vandalism is almost expected, “but when our volunteers are threatened, that is not acceptable.”

Some of the gags, he said, are funny. For instance, last weekend someone went through Mr. Connolly’s neighborhood and replaced all of the signs — including the sign in Mr. Connolly’s own yard — with the signs of his opponent, Republican Mychele Brickner.

“Mr. Connolly thought it was funny, but some of the neighbors were irritated,” Mr. Marquardt said. Mrs. Brickner’s campaign could not be reached yesterday for comment.

Mr. Marquardt said he has discussed the vandalism with Mrs. Brickner’s campaign manager.

“She says the campaign does not condone it,” Mr. Marquardt said.


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