RSF School candidates’ signs stolen

RSF School board candidate Rosemarie Rohatgi had 25 signs stolen during the election season.

There was a rash of political sign theft in Rancho Santa Fe during this election season with four of seven Rancho Santa Fe School District board candidates reporting that their signs went missing.

Candidate Rosemarie Rohatgi said she had 25 of her political signs stolen from the village area. The majority of the signs were taken off of public property —all of her signs that were placed on private property had permission from the owners.

In many cases Rohatgi said her signs were taken where other candidates’ signs around hers were left up, leaving her to wonder why she had been singled out. She said many thefts seemed to occur after she received key local endorsements, such as one from the Republican Party of San Diego.

“My husband and I are ’simple’ folks who believe in and practice common decency and we were both raised to treat others with respect,” Rohatgi said. “We are saddened to see this happen, particularly since the school board is a volunteer position, with three open seats, and we genuinely want to improve the school.”

Private property didn’t seem to deter sign theft—one Rancho Santa Fe resident reported that his Biden/Harris sign was snatched from his driveway.

RSF School board candidate Ellen Williams didn’t have campaign signs but said that candidate Jason Karches’ signs were removed from her property three times. As Williams lives on El Camino Real across from San Dieguito County Park, she offered her long easement on the street frontage to any board candidate. She said she pulled Karches’ sign out of the bushes twice and the third time it was just gone.

“It’s been an odd campaign and while I’ve worked hard to stay focused on the issues and how I might be of value to the school board it appears not everybody has had the same campaign strategy,” Karches said.

Karches said he had about 20 signs go missing after the first week he placed them—he said he started putting a note on the back of the signs promising the thief that for every sign stolen he would add another $100 to his campaign budget. Karches said he also notified the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol.

Candidate Paul Seitz said a bunch of his signs were knocked down, some had tire marks on them, and six were stolen. Candidate John Tree said about five to 10 of his signs went missing a few weeks back but it seemed to stop after current Rancho Santa Fe School Board member Jee Manghani sent an email to all candidates warning about sign theft. Tree said most recently a few of his signs were pushed to the ground and left there.

Candidates Chris Blatt and Annette Ross said they were not aware of any of their signs being stolen.

Political sign theft or removal is a misdemeanor crime and if caught, a person could be fined up to $2,000 or face a maximum penalty of six months in jail.