Huntington Beach residents cry foul after election signs vandalized

"Vote No on Measures A, B & C" signs were found vandalized Wednesday morning, with "Yes" stickers placed on them.
“Vote No on Measures A, B & C” signs were found vandalized Wednesday morning, with “Yes” stickers placed over the “no.” This sign is located on Hamilton Avenue, near Edison High School.
(Courtesy of Carol Daus)

Linda Purtill left her central Huntington Beach home to tutor Wednesday morning.

She was met with an unpleasant surprise after walking out of her front door.

The large sign in the planter of her corner lot, asking Huntington Beach voters to vote “No” on Measures A, B and C, had been vandalized. A green “Yes” sticker had been placed on top of the red “No.”

When Purtill tried to peel it off, the paint underneath went with it, leaving the sign unusable.

“I felt so violated,” she said. “I was so angry ... but they’re very strategic. They knew what [the stickers] would do to the signs.”


The sign was one of dozens of signs against the charter amendment measures that were apparently vandalized overnight around town, leaving the Protect Huntington Beach members who produced and hung the signs frustrated.

Protect Huntington Beach volunteer Carol Daus said a police report was filed, which city public affairs manager Jennifer Carey confirmed Wednesday afternoon. Under California Penal Code 594, defacing or stealing political campaign signs is a criminal offense.

“It’s very frustrating,” Daus said. “This is a form of vandalism, and this was a planned effort. These stickers were just the right dimensions to cover up the wording, and they’re all over town. They spent some money doing that.”

Election Day is Tuesday, though voters received their mail-in ballots weeks ago the first in-person vote centers opened last weekend.

Measures A, B and C would approve city charter amendments that have been hotly debated in Huntington Beach. Measure A deals with Huntington Beach running its own municipal elections and requiring voter identification, while Measure B seeks to codify into the charter the city’s flag ordinance that limits the flying of flags on city property to government flags, the POW/MIA flag and the six flags of the U.S. military.

Measure C is more administrative and would move the city to a two-year budget cycle, as well as update the processes to fill a council vacancy and cancel meetings.

The conservative City Council majority, including Mayor Gracey Van Der Mark and Mayor Pro Tem Pat Burns, have been in favor of the charter amendments. A group of residents against them formed Protect HB late last year.

Daus said some members went around trying to remove the green stickers on Wednesday.

“These signs cost thousands of dollars that people raised, residents of Huntington Beach,” she said. “It’s a heated election coming down to the end, and the last few days are critical, because there are still a lot of ballots that haven’t been mailed and we don’t know what the in-person voting will be like. These signs can’t be repaired.”

According to a daily report by political data company PDI, about 13% of Surf City voters had voted by mail as of Tuesday.

Huntington Beach City Council members Gracey Van Der Mark and Tony Strickland have been proponents of Measures A, B and C.
Huntington Beach City Council members Gracey Van Der Mark and Tony Strickland have been proponents of Measures A, B and C.
(James Carbone)

Van Der Mark on Wednesday called the vandalism of signs “shameful” and “rude” but added that it’s been happening on both sides.

She pointed to a video circulated on social media on Feb. 13 that showed a man removing campaign signs for “Yes on Measures A, B and C,” as well as for conservative City Council candidates Chad Williams, Don Kennedy and Butch Twining.

“That is not one of our people,” Daus responded. “Our group is not like that. We don’t resort to those tactics. They rely on political theater and stunts, and we rely on facts and educate the public about these measures. That’s how Protect HB has been handling it from the beginning.”

Williams, Kennedy and Twining are the three candidates who put up the “No = Woke Agenda” signs often seen next to the “No on A, B and C” signs around town. The equal sign is blue and yellow, the logo of the Human Rights Campaign.

Van Der Mark said her own City Council candidate signs were repeatedly defaced or stolen in past elections, to the point she put an electronic tracking device on them.

“To me, it was cheaper to buy a tracker, put it on the sign and then go find my signs than to constantly keep having more signs made,” Van Der Mark said. “I know what it feels like to have people deface and destroy your property. You kind of feel violated when people do that. I would not wish that upon anyone.”

Carey said Wednesday that representatives from the “Yes on A, B and C” campaign, Max Ukropina for Congress, as well as Williams, Kennedy and Twining, had filed their own police reports on Feb. 13, indicating they had signs that were damaged or stolen.

“There’s four different groups that have filed complaints with HBPD regarding damaged signs,” she said. “[The police department] is investigating all of these instances.”