The Middlesboro School Board race has taken a new and ugly turn as three members are reporting several campaign signs stolen.
According to attorney Michael D. Bowling, signs stolen are valued at $5,000 and belong to Edith Kelley, Vicki Byrne and Kelly Shoffner.
Bowling, who is the attorney and brother-in-law of Shoffner, said the members bought the signs with their own money and cannot afford to go back out and spend an additional $5,000 on more signs.
“Almost 100 percent of the signs are gone,” said Bowling.
Bowling stated officer Petey Gilbert from the Middlesboro Police Department is investigating the thefts. He also said the attorney general’s office has been contacted, adding they too are investigating the case. Bowling emphasized the theft is a felony offense since $5,000 worth of signs have been stolen.
“I’ve been in politics in the area for over 30 years and never in my memory have I ever seen an election where almost all of the opponents signs are removed,” said Bowling.
“It’s uncanny. The saddest feature is the fact that this is a school board race and this is all about the children,” said Bowling.
There has also been some harassment and intimidating occurring as well, according to Bowling. He said supporters of the women have been asked to remove signs from their own yards.
Bowling and the women formally filed a complaint yesterday about the actions that have taken place. There will be complaints about both the sign stealing and the harassment taking place, he alleged.
“This isn’t about who you are voting for school board. This is about the good citizens of this town taking a stand and saying ‘no’ to those who attempt to rule based on fear and intimidation,” said Bowling. “If you are going to steal signs, this is the worst example of a time to (do so) because our school children are watching this election.”
Bowling stated anyone with information about the stolen signs should contact the police, Bowling’s Law Office or the attorney general’s office.
Anthony Cloud is a staff writer for the Middlesboro Daily News. He can be contacted via email at email@example.com or by phone at 606-248-1010, ext. 208.