Although flatly denied by candidate Mike Mancino, his opponent in the race for Lackawaxen Township Supervisor, Brian Stuart, claims that someone operating a pickup with "Vanderbeek Farms" on the side, was stealing Stuart's campaign signs, Wednesday night.
Stuart filed a report with the PA State Police Blooming Grove barracks, stating that someone stole approximately 50 political signs from along roads in Lackawaxen Township. The value of the signs was put at about $300.
Stuart told The News Eagle that he was at a friend's home Wednesday evening on Rowland Road. At about 7:20 p.m. He was walking to his own vehicle when he and his friend observed a dark pickup stop along the road. Someone jumped out and pulled up one of Stuart's signs. This person then ran ahead and pulled out another sign; the driver caught up and the person got aboard, and they left with the signs.
Stuart and his friend pursued the pickup. Although never getting a good look at the faces of the people, upon reaching Route 6, Stuart said he could clearly seek "Vanderbeek Farms" written on the side of the black pickup. "Vanderbeek Farms" is owned by the candidate Mike Mancino.
By the next morning, Stuart received calls from other supporters stating that more of his signs were missing- totaling about 50. Stuart said he contacted Mancino by phone, and also contacted the State Police.
The "I Like Mike" campaign issued a statement on behalf of Mike Mancino concerning the missing signs:
"The farm vehicles that are located at Mike's business are all kept unlocked with the keys in the ignition. Disgruntled former employees, current staff and family members are aware that this is SOP. A common practice when vehicles are used by many different individuals throughout the day.
"Mike for Lackawaxen Township Supervisor, your Republican and Democratic Candidate for Lackawaxen Township Supervisor, had a conversation with his opponent regarding his allegations. Mike was equally as shocked and dismayed hearing that this may have happened. Mike assured his opponent that he would do whatever it takes to assist and help find the culprits. After all, there is no actual proof this happened.
"Mikes' initial conversation with his opponent addressed the theft of two signs on a property on Roland Road in the Greely area of Lackawaxen Township. This weekend's article in The Pocono Record seems to have been embellished to now include over 50 signs worth $300 and a high speed chase.
"Mike is new to politics and is surprised by his opponent's desire to win at any cost. The alleged theft of the two signs is certainly enough to raise questions within the Township voting populous. But to embellish the story to include 50 signs at a cost of $300 and a high speed chase, well that's Hollywood fiction!
"The facts are this – As we understand it, no police were involved in a 'high speed chase' or witnessed any 'sign stealing'. The only witnesses are Mike's opponent and his supporters. No charges have been filed, only a claim filed with the PSP, by Mike's opponent.
Page 2 of 2 - "We can understand our opponent's level of desperation, given the fact that he did not take the primary race seriously, and Mike has received the support of both the Republican and Democratic parties. As a career politician, this role has been our opponent's life for the last 18 YEARS ! One can only imagine to what level one would sink when painted into a corner of one's own making. And there is little doubt that his supporters, who have benefitted from his elected office through patronage and other ways, would feel just as desperate and attempt to cast Mike's campaign in such an unfortunate light."
Stuart told The News Eagle that he did not know if Mancino knew about the theft, but was just reporting what he had seen.
An attempt to reach Stuart for comment after Mancino's statement was released was not successful by deadline.
Stuart is waging a write-in campaign to capture a new term as supervisor, after having lost in the spring Primary to Mancino. Stuart has been a Lackawaxen Township Supervisor for 18 years and chairman about 14 years.
Trooper Kevin Varcoe asked that anyone with information about the missing signs, to call the State Police at 570-226-5718.