Opponents of two levies the Hockinson School District has put forward for a vote this month after failure in February are alleging that about a dozen of their signs have been stolen, though disappearing signs are nothing new for those who have taken part in recent campaigns.
Last week Hockinson School District resident Stephen Mosier filed a theft report with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office that at least 12 “vote no” signs had been stolen. As of press time, there had not been any developments in the case; in an interview with The Reflector Mosier didn’t offer up any group or individuals he suspected to be behind the theft.
Mosier said that the signs were disappearing overnight, adding that he had followed the Clark County Elections Office’s guidelines to make sure he was not in violation of any laws in their placement. He said he has paid to make 100 signs for a cost of about $280.
Though Mosier acknowledged that the levy measures had arguments on both sides, he felt that going to deliberate theft was a drastic step that didn’t work to encourage discourse or debate.
“It’s damaging to the community as a whole,” Mosier remarked. He said he has spoken to people who were not in support of the levy but did not want to publicly voice their opinion for fear of negative opinions on going against what ostensibly was in benefit of the schools.
The levies on the April 23 ballot initially failed during the Feb. 12 election, with the enhancement levy that would result in a tax rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed value gaining about 47.5 percent of the vote; and the capital levy, which would have a rate ranging from 45 to 36 cents per $1,000 for the three years it would run, having about 46.1 percent.
In a press release Mosier and others in opposition of the levy say increases on state revenues into the district next year would go beyond levels including both the state and local rates in 2017. In an interview, Mosier called into question some of the positions that the district said would be cut if the levy failed, positions such as security staff, recess aides and professional development employees.
Though Mosier noted he had voted in favor for school propositions in the past, he said recently there has been a change in public sentiment, part of which he felt stemmed from taxing districts, including schools, not taking into account pressures from all districts combined on to property owners.
Levy proponents have come out in condemnation of the alleged theft. Hockinson Citizens for Better Schools Committee Co-Chair Kelsey Chappelle stated in an email that the group welcomed debate on the levy issues, noting that they “would never condone the destruction of property.”
Hockinson High School AAA Boosters President Julie Atchley noted that disappearing signs is nothing new in school campaigns. She noted that recently those supporting school campaigns have moved onto other avenues for promotion, ditching signs almost entirely, remarking that it wasn’t unusual back when groups used signs more to have half of them missing during a campaign.
In an April 5 email to The Reflector Atchley noted her own “vote yes” sign had gone missing in the past week, though she did not plan on filing a police report on the supposed theft.