Republican State Senate candidate’s campaign signs targeted by vandals

DOVER — State Senate candidate Donyale Hall is the latest victim of campaign sign vandalism.

Ms. Hall, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the 17th Senatorial District, was deeply dismayed to learn Thursday six of her campaign signs had been defaced.

(Submitted photo) This sign for Donyale Hall on New Burton Road was targeted by at least one vandal this week.

“It’s devastating. It’s beyond frustrating to me,” she said. “Financially, I have to replace those signs. It’s not cheap, so there’s a financial aspect to it but just the boldness of someone to invade the sanctuary to your home (is upsetting).”

The signs, which ranged in size from 4 by 8 feet to 18 by 24 inches, were vandalized in similar ways. The five signs that featured Ms. Hall’s picture saw her face covered by black spray paint, and someone spray-painted over her jewelry in several photos.

Her name and slogan were also blocked on several signs, with spray paint altering her last name on two displays to spell “Balls.”

All six were within two miles of each other in the southern Dover-Wyoming area. Several were located on New Burton Road, while others were in her yard on Post Boulevard. In several spots, signs for other candidates next to her displays were left untouched.

Lt. Charles Groce of the Wyoming Police Department said an officer with the agency was on patrol when he spotted a male acting suspiciously at the intersection of North Layton Avenue and Front Street, where a sign was posted, around 12:45 a.m. Thursday.

“As he got closer to there, the suspect began to walk away from him approaching, and as he got to the scene the suspect took off running,” Lt. Groce said.

The individual fled into a backyard and was able to get away. The officer described him as a black male whom he estimated to be about 5-foot-7 and 17 or 18 years old, according to Lt. Groce.

Charges for the incident, should the suspect be identified, would be criminal mischief and trespassing.

Ms. Hall believes the vandalism is more than a simple act of mischief. While she does not feel racism was the primary factor behind the vandalism, she thinks she was targeted because her message of change to benefit the entire population, including those of lower socio-economic status, “threatens the status quo.”

“If it were just one sign, I feel that (it might not be politically motivated) but because it was multiple signs and carried out in a very uniform fashion with the same type of message, someone who would change my name to Balls, basically says where do you get the impetus to run for this office,” she said.

Sign vandalism pops up seemingly every election cycle. In 2016, La Mar Gunn, a candidate for lieutenant governor, complained of his signs being defaced, including at least one that had been apparently smeared with feces, and Delaware Republicans alleged a U.S. Postal Service worker was caught on camera stealing a Trump campaign sign just a few days before the general election.

In 2014, the husband of then Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, who is now lieutenant governor, was witnessed taking Republican campaign signs. Dana Long was charged with theft under $1,500, and an agreement was reached under mediation, allowing him to avoid prosecution.

The news came to light less than a week before voters went to the polls in November, and Sen. Hall-Long squeaked by with 51 percent of the vote.

Jesse Chadderdon, executive director of the Delaware Democratic Party, said he is unaware of any complaints filed by Democratic candidates this year.

“Those always come in in drips and drabs. It happens, unfortunately,” he wrote in an email.

The Republican Party did not respond to a request for comment.

Ms. Hall, meanwhile, is determined not to let the acts of vandalism get her down.

“If anything, it has deepened my resolve to make sure we push forward through all of this,” she said.

Staff writer Matt Bittle can be reached at 741-8250 or Follow @MatthewCBittle on Twitter.


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