Editor’s note: This story corrects the date the damage happened. We regret the error.
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – An Ohio Senate candidate who is up for reelection is offering a $5,000 reward after his opponent’s political sign was set on fire in a North Side front yard around 8:30 a.m. Sunday.
Ohio Senate candidate Bob Hagan tweeted a photo Sunday of one of his campaign signs burning. He said the act is the work of “extremist cowards.”
The sign was set on fire in the front yard of Hagan supporter Jim Converse, who lives on Broadway Avenue in Youngstown surrounding Wick Park.
Converse said he and his wife were heading out to get their usual Sunday paper when they noticed the sign up in flames.
“I put water on it and put it out,” says Converse. “Then called police and filed a report.”
Converse said they didn’t see anyone in the act, nor do they have cameras.
Hagan gave a statement to First News reading:
“This is emblematic of the violent anarchy of the Republican ruling class. People who want to steal your rights, steal your money, and steal your future. We have to get back to common sense. We have to care about each other, expand our circles to take care of more people, not close ourselves off from the outside, and scream at those they hate and burn down symbols they don’t like. Now is not a moment to hide. I’m calling on Mike Rulli to condemn all acts of political violence. But he won’t; he’ll hide from the tough stuff like he always does. Because at the end of the day, he’s in Columbus for one reason and one reason only, to protect the corrupt corporate interests who are running this state into the ground, into chaos, and stealing our chance at a fair future for all.”
Ohio Senator Michael Rulli, who is running against Hagan in the 33rd District, responded to the accusation Monday morning. Rulli denied Hagan’s claims against himself and the Republican party.
“My guys on the ground are saying it was an inside job,” says Rulli, indicating the Hagan campaign set fire to its own sign to make Rulli look bad. “So that’s why we are doing the ($5,000) reward so whoever it is will come to light. Obviously, we do not want bad behavior so let’s see who did it. We are putting our money where our mouth is.”
He offered a $5,000 reward for anyone who can provide video evidence of who set the fire. Rulli is asking the people of the community to check their security footage.
Hagan absolutely denies anyone involved in his campaign set the sign on fire.
“I’d love to see the video if we could find someone who did it,” said Hagan. “I’d love to see who did it.”
“But what he really should do,” added Hagan, “is take that $5,000 and give his employees in his nonunion store a raise. That’s absolutely ridiculous what he’s doing.”
Converse said there is a serious divide in the area when it comes to politics.
“It kinda was a feeling of sadness about the political conflicts that make everybody want to do things, and I didn’t want to accuse anybody or think who might have done it or anything…We don’t know if it was just a street person walking by that wanted to be a vandal or if it was some other motivation or what. So we don’t have any ideas about why it happened but we just don’t want it to escalate. We want this to be a nice neighborhood and we want people to care and respect the people in the houses that are here,” said Converse.
Converse plans to get a new sign for his front lawn and also filed a police report with Youngstown Police Department.
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