Melrose Park candidate`s sign defaced, smashed by vehicle - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

Mayoral candidate`s sign defaced, smashed by vehicle

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

With village elections just weeks away in Melrose Park, there are candidate signs everywhere--but when supporters of mayoral candidate Jesse Martinez hung a giant banner on the fence surrounding their property, they got a sign someone wasn't too happy.

Early Sunday morning someone drove their car over the curb, over the sidewalk, and through the wooden fence, planting a bull's-eye on Martinez's sign. They also spray-painted the banner and two other Martinez campaign signs on the fence and left a political flyer for incumbent Mayor Ron Serpico on the doorstep.

"I was dumbfounded," Martinez said of the situation. "I couldn't believe they would go to that extreme."

Rolando Villegas is a candidate for trustee running on Martinez's slate. His father owns the house where the banner had hung.

"They're trying to send a message. They're trying to intimidate the candidates," Villegas says. "They're trying to intimidate me and my family. But overall they're trying to intimidate the voters of Melrose Park who are ready for a change."

Mayor Serpico, who has run Melrose Park for 16 years, didn't seem too concerned when FOX 32 found him at his campaign headquarters. Off camera, he suggested the Martinez camp staged the vandalism itself. "It's the oldest trick in the book" Serpico said.

Later, his spokesman issued a statement taking a much different tone: "Destruction and vandalism of public or private property, including political signs, is a criminal act and is not condoned in any way by the village of Melrose Park. The incident is currently under investigation."

Gallardo and Martinez want to leave the broken fence and sign in place as a reminder for voters on Election Day, but say police told them they'd better clean it up fast.

"Aside from the damage I gotta fix, I might get a ticket from the inspectors," Gallardo says. "Just another insult to injury, I guess."

Since it happened so early in the morning, nobody saw the car go through the fence, although a number of neighbors heard squealing tires. Two weeks ago, someone drilled a Serpico sign into the fence next to a Martinez sign-- without the homeowner's permission. Serpico says that was a mistake.

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