Subrina Brenham, the businesswoman challenging Tennell Atkins in the District 8 City Council race, was driving along Lancaster Road this morning when she noticed something odd: One of her campaign signs, the large rectangular variety you see plastered on the sides of buildings and fences, had been cast aside in an open field alongside a heap of other debris.
This was not the first one she had found. "Once I started putting my signs out, my signs started being removed and replaced by Tennell Atkins signs," she said this afternoon. Four of them by her count, at $50 a pop.
The other ones she took in stride, but this one? This was the last straw. She called police. She filed a report. She spoke with Unfair Park.
"I know [Atkins] knows," she said. "This is with his knowledge. He's done this before in other campaigns."
Those are bold accusations. They also happen to reek somewhat of desperation. After all, Atkins had no trouble destroying his opponents in his two contested races, in 2007 and 2009, without resorting to petty crime.
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Matter of fact, he was the victim of campaign sign theft in the latter race. Police saw it happen.
For the record, Atkins denies the allegations. "It's just a story," he says. "Everybody knows me. I do not do that."
But as Brenham points out, that's exactly what Atkins would say. "He knows, but of course he won't say it," she says. If he were taking regular midnight tours of District 8 and stuffing his opponent's campaign signs into a comically large bag, a la the Grinch, would he admit it? Of course not.
And so, it comes down to instinct. Should you believe the upstart challenger making undocumented accusations? Or the incumbent who looks poised to win no matter how many signs his opponent puts out? Flip a coin.