GROTON – With only days to go before next week’s town election, a candidate for a seat on the Groton-Dunstable Regional School Committee has reported that some of his election signs placed around town have been stolen or removed without his permission.
“The signs were all removed on the same day,” said candidate Paul Fitzgerald. “On my way to drop my son off at soccer last week, I drove past two of the spots where I had placed signs and I saw that they were missing. Later, someone at soccer said that the sign was missing from their yard. So I drove a little bit around to see if other signs were missing and there were signs missing from places where I knew I had them. After that, I went to the police.”
Fitzgerald said he had placed about 50 signs around town but had no idea how many may have been removed.
“I reported to the Groton police on Saturday that some of my ‘Paul Fitzgerald for School Committee’ lawn signs were missing,” said Fitzgerald. “I’m disappointed it’s happening in Groton.”
The small lawn signs, which have become a familiar sight at election time, have been placed in front yards throughout the town, usually along main thoroughfares.
“Missing signs cannot be replaced this close to the May 16 election,” lamented Fitzgerald. “I’m in a tight race to stay on the School Committee. This is a distraction and a disappointment.”
Fitzgerald, who was appointed to the School Committee by the Board of Selectmen last year following the resignation of Patti Murray, is running in the town’s only contested race.
If Fitzgerald, a self-described fiscal conservative, wins election this spring, he will fill out the remaining year of Murray’s original three-year term.
Challenging Fitzgerald is Reedy Meadow Road resident Paul Funch, who castigated the School Committee for not being more forceful with town officials in defending a budget that he thought was necessary to meet the needs of educating the district’s students.
The two men met in debate at a candidate forum held on May 2.
Fitzgerald said he had no idea who might have taken his signs but was assured by the town’s Police Department that it was a crime.
“Sergeant James Cullen of the Groton Police said stealing political signs is considered ‘larceny under $250’ and is classified as a misdemeanor,” Fitzgerald reported.
Despite his disappointment with the sign problem, Fitzgerald was philosophical about the situation.
“I thank the people of Groton for supporting all the candidates by displaying lawn signs on their property,” Fitzgerald said. “They demonstrate neighborhood support and are an integral part of local elections. I’m hoping that my supporters, and there are lots of them, will go to the polls and vote for me on Tuesday so I can continue serving on the School Committee.”
Sergeant Cullen and Chief Robert Mulhern were both unavailable for comment and could not confirm if there have been any other reports of missing election signs.