A vandal or vandals defaced, altered and destroyed a number of campaign signs supporting a vote in favor of Measure I in Morgan Hill last week, according to members of the Yes on Measure I committee.
At least six “Yes on I” signs along public streets were destroyed or altered between Feb. 7 and Feb. 13, according to the committee. In some instances, the word “Yes” had been painted over with the word “NO” in large lettering, according to members of the committee. The website strongmorganhillschools.com, which had been printed on the pro-Measure I signs, was also covered with paint. The website was formed by the campaign committee Friends of Morgan Hill Unified Schools 2020 – Yes on Measure I.
One of the signs had been sliced through the word “Yes.” And in at least one instance, someone had placed a homemade sign reading “No! On Measure I” next to the vandalized signage, according to Morgan Hill Unified School District superintendent Steve Betando, who has been volunteering for the Yes on Measure I committee.
Measure I is a $900 million bond vote that appears on the March 3 election ballot. If approved with a 55-percent majority, the funds will be spent over the next 30 years on capital improvements and replacements, as well as technology upgrades, throughout MHUSD.
“I feel sorry for that committee that has worked so hard to raise the funds to pay for (the signs), and volunteered all their hard work,” Betando said.
The homemade signs appear to violate the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, which requires campaign signs to be displayed with the name or FPPC registration number for the committee that paid for them, according to Yes on I committee members. No such numbers or names were displayed on the anti-Measure I signs that sprouted as passersby noticed the competing placards were damaged.
The Yes on Measure I committee reported the allegedly illegal signs to the FPPC. Another committee member said the vandalism was reported to police, but Morgan Hill Police Sgt. Bill Norman said Tuesday morning that officers had not yet received any such reports.
Betando also said the committee has heard from some private residents and business owners who complained that some “Yes on I” signs had gone missing from their front yards.
MHUSD Board of Trustees Vice President Wendy Sullivan said the vandalism and illegal signage violates the community spirit of honest dialogue, which the Yes on Measure I committee welcomes.
“Out intent and our wish is to have respectful conversation and discourse,” said Sullivan, who is also chair of the Yes on Measure I committee. “We’re not going to stoop to the level that we’ve been experiencing. We’ll be pushing forward with our own messaging and getting our story out there.”
Proponents of Measure I say the 30-year bond will provide all 14 MHUSD schools with the resources they need to keep their facilities and classroom technology up-to-date. Doing so will help retain and attract good teachers and ensure a high quality of education, according to the measure’s supporters.
The Yes on Measure I committee is registered with FPPC number 1422774. The committee collected $20,500 in campaign contributions in 2019. So far in 2020, the committee has collected $7,000 in contributions, according to filings on the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters website. The latest filings do not list the committee’s expenses thus far.
No formal or official committee against Measure I can be found on the registrar’s site.