The end of Aurora City Council campaign civility is a sign of the times

“Sorry you jumped to conclusions. I didn't do it. There are 20 candidates and signs are getting moved around and stolen,” Councilwoman Marsha Berzins said in the comments. “If you had asked first, I would have told you it wasn't me. You're correct that this election is going south and dirty tricks abound. Sorry you blamed me with 19

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Facebook post of campaign sign hijinks in Aurora and the anger among candidates as a result

berzins

Facebook post of campaign sign hijinks in Aurora and the anger among candidates as a result

lugo

Facebook post of campaign sign hijinks in Aurora and the anger among candidates as a result

AURORA | Aurora City Council candidates are generally a congenial lot — until the inevitable sign shenanigans start.

They’re here, and everybody’s angry.

Sprinkled across Ward III in central Aurora are Aurora City Council candidate campaign signs stacked in front of one another, and in some cases the signs are boxing in another candidate’s signs all together.

Campaign sign drama is not new. Rather, it’s pretty typical in nearly all political races. But in Ward III, fingers are pointed in all different directions.

Last week, Naquetta Ricks wrote in a complaint to the city clerk that, not only are her signs being blocked by competitors, she tripped on a prairie dog hole trying to rearrange her cloaked signs.

The complaint, made in an email to Aurora City Clerk Linda Blackston, singles out incumbent Marsha Berzins and her “henchmen” as the culprit for the wayward sign placements.

“This is an act of intimidation! There is enough space along the roads for everyone, yet Marsha feels that she has to place her signs directly upon my yard signs to cover mine up,” Ricks wrote in the complaint.

Even though the signs are for a city race in a city ward, Aurora officials say it’s not up to them to address the allegations among someone who will become one of their indirect bosses.

“The matter reported did not fall within the purview of the City of Aurora,” said city spokeswoman Lori MacKenzie. “Candidate Ricks was informed of this fact. If she wants to pursue some sort of official action, she needs to do that through the district court.

There are city ordinances pertaining to campaign signage, but none that specifically deal with tampered yard signs.

Like all modern day political tiffs, the issue quickly took to social media. A supporter of Ricks’ campaign posted photos of the stacked signs on Facebook, adding: “This is a complete act of violence. If I were considering voting for her, I wouldn’t have after seeing this. I don’t know about you, but this is not the kind of councilwoman I want to represent me. Politics or not, this is not the kind of behavior we want on our city council.”

Berzins refuted the allegations.

“Sorry you jumped to conclusions. I didn’t do it. There are 20 candidates and signs are getting moved around and stolen,” she said in the comments. “If you had asked first, I would have told you it wasn’t me. You’re correct that this election is going south and dirty tricks abound. Sorry you blamed me with 19 others.”

The post alleged Berzins was also covering the signs of Debi Hunter Holen. In the comments, a screenshot from another post shows Martha Lugo appearing to allege Berzins’ people have also been taking her signs, and Hunter Holen signs have been popping up on three sides of her signs.

Berzins told the Aurora Sentinel that while it’s not her or her people, and it’s definitely not OK to move political signs, she expected it, as this is not her first time running a city council campaign.

“If you go around and look my signs have been blocked, too,” Berzins said. “It’s nothing new, it happens all the time. It’s very unfortunate to mess with somebody else’s sign. It’s illegal, and those signs are very expensive. But I’m not whining and complaining.”

Ricks said in a statement that she’s too busy to seek action against Berzins in the District Court.

“This is yet another attempt by my opponents to undermine my campaign, but I will continue to fight so that Ward III has a representative on city council that understands their needs,” Ricks added.