Sacramento County supervisor candidate Teresa Stanley was captured in a photo last week taking a rival’s campaign sign at a busy intersection in Rio Linda, an act that many candidates complain about but rarely have the opportunity to record.
Stanley, a Folsom Cordova Unified School District trustee since 1996, was seen opening her driver’s-side door with a large sign for Mike Kozlowski in her right hand, based on a photo taken by Colleen Conroy. Stanley posted her own sign for the District 4 seat nearby the next day.
The popular campaign real estate is at the corner of Rio Linda and Elkhorn boulevards in front of the First Southern Baptist Church of Rio Linda. Pastor Steve Gleghorn said Tuesday that the patch of dry grass belongs to the county, not the church, which cannot allow campaign signs on its property under federal law.
Conroy posted the photo to her Facebook page and notified Kozlowski last week. She also emailed it to The Sacramento Bee on Monday and noted that Stanley posted a Facebook picture of herself at the Rio Linda Elverta Food Closet wearing the same outfit she had on in the sign photo. Stanley stood next to Gleghorn and two other food closet volunteers in that photo taken at the church.
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Stanley has taken to calling the fallout “signgate.” She said Tuesday that by last week she had grown frustrated with the large number of Kozlowski campaign signs along Greenback Lane, Elkhorn Boulevard and elsewhere that she said violated lighting and landscaping district rules or were placed without the permission of property owners.
She said a home builder in Folsom had removed Kozlowski signs from his site. “I know some of the (owners of private property) where he put his signs have endorsed Kerri and not him,” Stanley said, referring to candidate Kerri Howell. “This has been especially frustrating to somebody who is trying to follow the rules.”
Besides Stanley, Kozlowski and Folsom City Councilwoman Howell, other candidates in the June 7 contest are teacher Gary N. Blenner and Citrus Heights City Councilwoman Sue Frost. The five candidates are vying to replace Supervisor Roberta MacGlashan, who is stepping down after 12 years on the board.
Kozlowski, an energy services consultant and high school track coach, said he talked to Stanley and believes her “implicitly when she says she didn’t mean anything by it.”
“I have known her for several years and have no reason to distrust her, and I’d like to continue to consider her the friendliest of rivals,” he said. “My only observation is that, at worst, moving that sign was a misuse of the precious little time we each have to educate voters about our positions so that they can make an informed decision on June 7.”
Stanley said she got permission from the pastor at the church to put her sign on the corner near Rio Linda and Elkhorn boulevards. “I asked the pastor out there if Mike had permission and he said he (Kozlowski) had not asked.”
Outside the church, she said someone trying to mow the property was also having to navigate the sign, “so I pulled up the (Kozlowski) sign and told the pastor, ‘If you want me to put this back, I will.’ But otherwise I was going to give it to Mike.”
The next day, mowing completed, Stanley returned and planted her own campaign sign near the church. She admittedly was slow in getting the Kozlowski sign back to the owner.
Gleghorn, the pastor of First Southern Baptist Church for 35 years, had his own take. He said that while the property belongs to the county, candidates ask him each election season as a courtesy whether they can post their signs on the adjacent property. He said he tells all candidates they can do so.
“We’re not playing favorites toward anybody,” he said, explaining that the church cannot legally endorse political candidates.
Gleghorn said Tuesday that he wanted Stanley to put Kozlowski’s sign back. “It was up there, and since it got pulled down, it looks like we’re endorsing one person,” he said.
A short while later, after speaking to Stanley, he confirmed that she had already given it to Kozlowski.
When asked if she would do it again, Stanley responded, “Oh, God, no! This is my sixth election and the first time I have ever picked up a sign.”
Stanley has been elected five times as trustee for the Folsom Cordova Unified School District. The current campaign is her first for countywide office.
“It wasn’t theft. I didn’t take it for the purpose of depriving him of his sign,” she said. “They tried to portray it on the (TV) news as petty theft. I have arranged to give it back to Mike. It might be back to him already.”
Kozlowski, who lost a 2010 bid for Folsom City Council, did not challenge Stanley’s remarks about his campaign’s sign placement.
“I have not run six campaigns before,” he said. “And I have some exuberant campaign folks helping me. The majority (of signs) are in people’s front yards in Folsom where I have friends. It’s certainly possible that I have some misplaced. It wasn’t intentional or because we were trying to skirt the law or anything like that.”