Grays Harbor County Commissioner Frank Gordon had a busy day Tuesday. In between county meetings of the budget and finance committees, he had to make a quick stop and take down his political opponent’s campaign signs. Unfortunately for Democrat Commissioner Gordon, his actions were caught on camera, and his stealthy campaign strategy was exposed. Much drama ensued.
In Grays Harbor County, located on the west coast of Washington State, local politics can get tumultuous at times and even a little confrontational, however, there is nothing like getting caught red-handed (or sign-handed?) to generate attention for local politics. It is unlikely that long-time incumbent Frank Gordon wanted the attention to be on this aspect of his campaign strategy.
We briefly referenced the local Grays Harbor County Commissioner races a few weeks ago when discussing the changing trends throughout Washington State as political party control from former Democrat party strongholds appears to be shifting towards more conservative or independent choices. These choices are sometimes affiliated with Republicans, but increasingly these new political candidates are unaffiliated independents. In Grays Harbor County, based on the primary results, it appears likely the three member county commission will be led by one Republican and two independents. Long time incumbent Democrat Frank Gordon’s recent sign theft scandal probably seals his political fate (not that his 38.5% showing in the recent primary was too impressive).
Sign wars are nothing new in politics. These fights are as old as political campaigning itself. Political candidates always claim victim status because their signs are destroyed or stolen. However, it is worth it to have your signs taken if you can catch the perpetrators in the act. Usually, the sign thiefs are lower level political minions or night-time anonymous hoodlums. It is rare to catch an actual politician in the act. It is particularly unusual to catch a politician in his suit, in between county meetings in broad daylight. This is why this story has received so much attention.
Multiple radio interviews about “Sign Theft Gate” have occurred. Local radio station KBKW Coffee talk discussed the story yesterday. Additionally, local television jumped on this juicy story and Kiro7 covered it here and King-5 news covered it here last night
Unfortunately for Commissioner Gordon, his varying stories justifying his behavior only dug the hole deeper, and he did himself few favors trying to talk his way out of this one. Favorite excuses were offered like the following:
- Commissioner Gordon claims he was “helping” his opponent by “returning” his opponents signs he “found.”
- Commissioner Gordon claims there was no photo of him actually “removing” the sign, so he argues he was “set-up.” A mystery person put his opponents’ campaign signs in the back of Gordon’s truck. (my personal favorite)
- Gordon also claimed that the property owner had not given his opponent “permission” to put up his signs. The property owner, the local Lutheran Church, contradicted Commissioner Gordon and indicated they allowed all politicians to place signs on their property.
department have opened an investigation. There is no word yet if Commissioner Gordon has retained legal counsel or has changed his story yet again.
However, this sad and silly story does have a few lessons for everyone. They are not hard to remember:
- Don’t take down or mess with political signs of your opponents
- If your signs are disappearing or being vandalized, install a camera to catch the bad actors. Photos and video are worth it.
- If you get caught committing some mischief, it might be wisest to fess up rather than dig a deeper hole for yourself.
- For the taxpayer’s sake, if you just can’t restrain yourself from stealing signs, and you are an incumbent politician – please do it on your own time, not on the taxpayer dime.
Frank Gordon is the most prominent elected Democrat in Grays Harbor. Although his time in political office appears to be short, the local Grays Harbor Democratic Party organization appears to be rallying behind their leader Gordon and have not denounced his actions. This might be one reason why, starting next year, for the first time since the Roosevelt administration there will no longer be a Democrat on the Grays Harbor County Commission.
Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.” It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people. It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government. It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.” Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed…