Two years ago, politics in River Forest got a bit nasty when as many as 40 corrugated plastic signs for first-time trustee candidate Patty Henek were slashed. At the time, some speculated that the actions might have been in response to her involvement in the debate over the renovation of Roosevelt Middle School.
Though the Roosevelt School issue has been settled, Henek's signs once again are being damaged, apparently. And, to date, it appears she's the only candidate whose signs have been targeted for vandalism.
The incidents were troubling enough for Village President Catherine Adduci to call them out during the March 13 meeting of the village board.
"This is not who we are in River Forest. I hope all of us around the board – anyone -- will denounce this as a bad thing, that they don't accept it, they do not like it," Adduci said. "This is not who we are. We will prosecute if we see anyone vandalizing any signs on private property."
Henek's signs had been out around River Forest for about two weeks. Over the March 11 weekend, she received email and calls from some supporters informing her that that signs in front of their homes had been damaged.
The signs are constructed in such a way that it would take some effort to kick them in and would take a tool to cut them. On William Street, one sign and its metal stand were damaged, Henek said. Other Henek signs were damaged in different parts of town, she said.
"I'm not 100 percent sure who did this. I thought maybe we were past this," said Henek.
Henek said that in 2013 as many as 40 of her signs experienced the same type of damage. In one instance, she had to replace a sign three times.
As she did two years ago, she will replace all the signs. She has not contacted police; she did not two years ago, either, she said.
Two other candidates running for trustee expressed concern over the incidents.
"I was shocked; it was shocking to see it in person," said Trustee Tom Cargie, who noted that two of Henek sings on his block were disturbed, though the one in front of his house was not.
"It was troubling that it just happened to Patty's signs given that others were undisturbed," Cargie said. "These are not kids just being destructive. The only conclusion I can make is that this is directed and destructive. And unfortunate."
In an email, first-time candidate Respicio Vazquez said, "I am disheartened that any one candidate's lawn signs were vandalized. Each River Forest candidate works hard in contributing their personal time and financial resources towards their campaign with the hopes of serving the community. We should all be respectful of each other's expressions, viewpoints and property."