Signs of trouble in Ft. Bend Co.

February 20, 2008 6:38:10 PM PST
Early voting is already underway for the Texas primary, so candidates need to get their views known. That means lots of campaign signs, especially at voting locations. But at one site, they're being pulled down. Several candidates put their signs in front of a church.

When leaders of the Pecan Grove Baptist Church agreed to allow its building to be used for early voting, they say it was on the condition that election campaign signs were not put on their property. Chief early voting clerk Gena Walls says that's not what she saw.

"There were signs everywhere," she said. "And it wasn't just one sign per candidate. It was six and seven and eight signs."

So after candidates and their staff put signs there, the pastor and parishioners pulled the signs out of the ground and laid them back down.

"This is private property," said Walls. "No one asked permission to put a sign on this private property."

The pastor says he allowed use of the church after coming to an agreement with Ft. Bend Election Administrator J.R. Perez, who resigned for unknown reasons yesterday. Perez did tell us the issues were personal.

The interim elections administrator now tells Eyewitness News there was no agreement with the church prohibiting signage use on its property.

"County elections advised us that there are not any restrictions at any early voting sites," said Dean Hrbacek, a candidate in District 22.

Hrbacek says some of his volunteers put up signs along with everyone else, according to what is elections custom.

"They knew it was an early voting site and it's common for signs to be placed at early voting sites," he said.

That doesn't explain why Hrbacek's staffer then picked up his signs and took them with him after our interview.

Several candidates say they never would have put the signs up if they knew they were unwanted.

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