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Prank is a sign of the times

August 18, 1998

Campaign sign prankBy SHEILA HOTCHKIN / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer [enlarge]




WILLIAMSPORT - Bonnie Lowman of Williamsport says her family has never voluntarily posted a campaign sign in the yard.

Yet 83 signs endorsing 26 candidates found their way onto her Potomac Estates property by 4 a.m. Sunday morning.

"Obviously, they want everyone in Potomac Estates to make sure they vote," Lowman said dryly.

The unknown pranksters left a campaign sign right at her doorstep, then laid other signs across the shrubbery, walkway and at the entrance to the family's two car garage, Lowman said.

More signs rested on her teenage daughter's car and the rest, a substantial number, were posted in neat, tight rows across her lawn.

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Placards previously posted by her neighbors in support of candidates were not used for the extensive display at Lowman's house. She theorizes that the signs were brought in from other areas of Washington County.

Her 23-year-old daughter Christine, who returned late that night from a trip, rousted her parents from bed to ask them about the sudden show of political spirit.

"She woke me up and said, 'Mom, what's all the signs in our yard for?'" Lowman said. "And I said, 'There are no signs.'"

Lowman said she did not hear the late-night visitors because her air conditioning was on and all the windows were closed, as were those of her neighbors.

But she thinks the signs must have been placed in the early hours of Sunday morning.

"Earlier I heard the dog next door barking, around 3 a.m., and I didn't think anything of it," she said.

Those who brought the signs weren't deterred by the fact that the lights around her yard were on.

"Good grief," she said. "Anyone that came in the development would have seen them do it."

The culprits were nonpartisan. The signs candidates from a number of races, and the Democrat and Republican parties.

But they did favor some candidates over others.

A release from the Washington County Sheriff's Department said that Circuit Court judge candidate Gregory C. Bannon netted the greatest number of signs, with 13 bearing his name.

"I don't know if it means anything or not - other than that we have prettier signs," said Bannon, a local attorney who said his signs are done in black, white and gold.

He said several of his signs were reported missing from around the Halfway area during the weekend, before the 13 signs turned up in Lowman's yard.

Seven signs represented Bannon's opponents in the upcoming election, Judge Donald E. Beachley and Judge W. Kennedy Boone III.

Others whose signs were well represented included Washington County Commissioners candidates John C. Munson with 10 signs and Sue Tuckwell with nine. Twenty-one additional candidates received four signs or less.

It took two police cruisers to take the signs to the Washington County Sheriff's Department property room, according to Cpl. Daryl Sanders, who responded to the Lowman's early morning call.

"And the victims of the theft are coming in and claiming the signs," Sanders said.

Anyone with information or wanting to recover signs from their campaign can call the Washington County Sheriff's Department at 301-791-3020.

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