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GOP Assembly Candidates Spar Over Campaign Signs

TIMES STAFF WRITER

In the latest round of an increasingly testy campaign, state Assembly candidate Tony Strickland has filed a complaint with the district attorney accusing fellow GOP candidate Rich Sybert of personally tearing down Strickland’s campaign signs.

Sybert dismissed Strickland’s charges as a ridiculous “publicity stunt” by a worried opponent. He said he was sleeping at his Newbury Park home at 3 a.m. Monday, when the incident was alleged to have occurred.

“Oh, please!” Sybert said when informed of Strickland’s complaint. “I’ve got better things to do. I’m in bed at three in the morning.”

Strickland campaign representatives said the complaint accuses Sybert, an attorney and Oxnard toy company executive, of ripping down a large “Strickland for Assembly” sign at Janss and Moorpark roads about 3 a.m.

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“I’ll let the voters determine what that says about Rich,” Strickland said Wednesday.

District attorney’s officials confirmed they had received a complaint from the Strickland campaign.

“We will assign someone to review it as soon as possible,” said Jeff Bennett, chief deputy in charge of investigations.

The complaint is not the first time Sybert and Strickland have tangled in the race to replace Assemblyman Nao Takasugi (R-Oxnard), who is prohibited from seeking reelection because of term limits. Takasugi’s district stretches from Oxnard to Thousand Oaks.

Strickland, a Thousand Oaks resident who works as a legislative aide, accused Sybert of lying about an endorsement by former Vice President Dan Quayle earlier this year.

Sybert responded by accusing Strickland of making up an endorsement from Camarillo Councilwoman Charlotte Craven. Both men said they believed they had secured the respective endorsements, characterizing the episodes as mix-ups.

A Strickland volunteer, 19-year-old Pepperdine University student Nick Lisewych, said he saw Sybert personally removing the campaign sign and scurrying along the sidewalk in the early hours Monday.

Lisewych had been sent by the Strickland camp to investigate a rash of campaign sign vandalism that resulted in a loss of 30 signs around the city. He did not confront the alleged vandal.

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“I saw Rich Sybert go up to one of our signs, just rip it down and go back,” Lisewych said. “I have absolutely no doubts. It was him.”

Sybert said his wife, Greta, can vouch for his presence far from the street corner where he is purported to have been.

“I checked with my wife, and she’s pretty sure the guy next to her Monday night was me,” Sybert said.


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