OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — The race for Overland Park mayor is heating up. Sign stealing is at the center of the most recent controversy.
“We saw two people in the median of the road wearing Clay Norkey shirts putting up Clay Norkey signs and they had taken down Faris Farassati signs which were laying in the median,” said witness Max Phillips.
Philips and a friend, who both live in Kansas City, Missouri, were riding their bikes along the Indian Creek Trail near 127th and Nall when they confronted the two people they saw stealing political signs. The guys ran off and threw the signs in bushes near the intersection but not before Phillips’ friend snapped a photo of them. In the photo one of the guys is seen carrying what Phillips said is a Norkey sign, the other has a Farassati sign tucked under his arm, which they removed from the ground.
“It seems like they might do anything that they really wanted to win the race,” Phillips said.
Overland Park resident Jum Lundcruts described seeing the same thing.
“They literally were just taking up Farassati signs and the exact same spot placing them down for Mr. Norkey,” he said. “I would hope that our city was better than that.”
Clay Norkey is an attorney running for Overland Park Mayor. One of his opponents is current city councilman Dr. Faris Farassati.
“We don’t want this to be a war between signs, we want this to be a competition between ideas.” Farassati said.
Farassati said he found out about the sign stealing through social media and it is not the first time he has been targeted. Overland Park Police confirmed that they have identified a suspect in a previous political sign stealing incident and are looking into Sunday’s incident. They hope traffic cameras at the intersection will help lead them to Norkey’s volunteers.
Political sign stealing is a misdemeanor crime.
“These actions are uncalled for,” Farassati said. “It comes from a lack of understanding of the nature of these elections and I believe that it’s an insult to the people of Overland Park. I hope they correct their ways.”
Norkey said he reached out to Farassati when he found out about the incident and his team replaced Farassati’s signs.
“This is not activity that we condone,” Norkey said. When asked why Farassati was targeted, Norkey replied, “I do not know. I know sign tampering has become an issue in these elections, it’s not appropriate whatsoever but I do not know.”
Norkey said his volunteers are minors and new to his campaign, they no longer work for him.
“Mistakes will be made, passions run high, I get that it’s not appropriate at all.” Norkey said. “That’s why we have to take steps to address it when we learn about it.”
Norkey said he does not know who the volunteers were, but he will cooperate with the police investigation.