Crime - Sacto 911

Reward offered for Granite Bay teen’s stolen political signs

Rep. Tom McClintock and challenger Jessica Morse have scheduled a debate Sept. 23 in Mariposa.
Rep. Tom McClintock and challenger Jessica Morse have scheduled a debate Sept. 23 in Mariposa. Fresno Bee file

Two Granite Bay residents are offering a $1,500 reward for information about the thefts last week of Jessica Morse yard signs as election day approaches in California’s 4th District congressional race.

Jessica Mathews put up a $1,000 reward after she and her daughter Emma discovered their Morse yard signs had disappeared Oct. 15 while their neighbor, whose Morse signs disappeared at the same time, is also offering $500 for information about the thefts, Mathews said.

Emma, a high school sophomore at Western Sierra Collegiate Academy, put up the signs herself, and said she wanted to install 50 new signs in response to the theft.

“It sends a message of ‘if you try to silence us we just get louder,’ ” Emma said.

It’s the principle of the matter that bothers her, her mother said, adding that even though she could get new signs for free, she believes no amount of money is too much to protect free speech.

“I think that the message that it sends to our young kids who are getting politically aware ... I just think it really sends a horrible message to them,” Jessica Mathews said. “I think we need to shine a light on it.”

Mathews knows at least six people who have had their Morse signs disappear in the past couple of weeks, she said, though not everyone made police reports.

The Placer County Sheriff’s Office confirmed they had only received two reports of recently stolen or vandalized campaign signs in Granite Bay — Jessica and her neighbor’s — according to Lt. Andrew Scott, a department spokesman.

Despite being very young at the time, Emma said she remembers when her mother’s Barack Obama yard signs were stolen in 2008.

Mathews thought it was a one-time occurrence, but now, 10 years later, she said “it’s heartbreaking” to see it happening again, she said.

“What’s the fear of me having a sign in my yard?” Mathews said, acknowledging that many people in the conservative-leaning area are reluctant to show Democratic support.

In a statement emailed to The Bee, Morse blamed the incident on the current hyper-charged political climate.

“It is a shame that these yard signs on private property were taken. But this incident points to a broader issue in our current political culture, where anger and incivility are encouraged and rewarded. In Washington, my primary goal will be to change that culture so that people across the political spectrum will work together to address the serious challenges our communities face,” Morse said.

A spokesman for Morse’s rival, Republican incumbent Tom McClintock, said their campaign has also had signs stolen ahead of the Nov. 6 election.

“We have had an innumerable number of McClintock signs stolen,” said spokesman Chris Baker, adding that Morse campaign signs would often pop up in their place afterward.

Emma said that whoever tore down her signs acted out of “intolerance and spite.”

The thieves, Jessica said, may be ordinary citizens in many respects, but their actions were “un-American” and sent a message to the community that civil discourse is not possible.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, and Democratic challenger Jessica Morse held a debate on Sunday, Sept. 23, 2018 in Mariposa, Calif.

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