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Election damage worst in 10 years

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Mayor contender Greg Brownless and friend help repair vandalised election signs on Devonport Rd. Photo/George Novak
Mayor contender Greg Brownless and friend help repair vandalised election signs on Devonport Rd. Photo/George Novak

Candidates in this year's local body elections are bearing the brunt of what has become the worst vandalism in more than 10 years.

Yesterday, 12 elections signs featuring people running for the various bodies that run Tauranga city were mowed down on the grass verge at Memorial Park on Devonport Rd.

The damage was the latest in a string of vandalism targeting candidates throughout Tauranga.

Bay of Plenty Regional Councillor Paula Thompson, who was helping repair the signs yesterday, said it was the worst vandalism she had seen since she began taking part in the elections in 2005.

''I haven't seen it as bad as I've seen it this year,'' she said.

''I accept that it's part of the course, to a point, then it gets to be quite disheartening and especially disheartening if you appear to be targeted.''

Ms Thompson's sign was among a dozen that were kicked or pushed over to such a point the signs either came out of the ground or snapped off their stakes. The signs included candidates for Tauranga City Council, Bay of Plenty District Health Board as well as the regional council.

Ms Thompson said the vandalism appeared to unite some candidates together and the repairing of them almost became a social event.

Mayor contender Greg Brownless joined Ms Thompson in repairing the signs yesterday, with both candidates helping fix those of their competitors.

''When it first happens you get really annoyed but then you get used to it. As disappointing as it is, it does seem unfortunately part of the territory,'' he said.

Mr Brownless said he was glad he's not had something smashed beyond repair but he had gone to signs that had clearly been run over a cars.

''I'm keeping pretty positive. I'm annoyed but philosophical. The fact that they seem to be equal opportunity trashers is comforting.''

The only sign to survive the carnage belonged to disabled council candidate Tony Christiansen. Asked whether it was because the vandals may have been moved by the photo showing him in his wheelchair, he responded

"I suppose it is a possibility. With the Paralympics on, and that being out there in the forefront, it could be they recognized that."

The former world games competitor in weight lifting, the marathon, shotput and javelin said everyone had their points of difference, with his being the challenge he faced in life after losing both his legs and not giving up.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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