By Sandra Emerson Staff Writer
Created: 08/04/2011 06:15:59 PM PDT

UPLAND – It would not be election season if there were not reports of missing or vandalized political signs.

Some of the 11 candidates running for a vacant seat on the City Council this summer have suffered the loss of numerous campaign signs throughout the city, specifically in the Upland Northwest shopping center at 16th Street and Mountain Avenue.

Frank Mistretta, center property owner, said he has removed several signs from his shopping center because they were not approved by him.

Mistretta is supporting candidate Martin Thouvenell, whose signs remain on the property.

“This absolutely dilutes the value of the endorsement of Marty Thouvenell,” Mistretta said. “The others never got permission. They never talked to us. I have no idea what their platforms are or what their positions are on any of the issues.”

Mistretta said candidates who may have been given permission from businesses in the shopping center still did not have approval to place signs on his property, but could have put them in the businesses’ windows.

City Manager Stephen Dunn said candidates and property owners have permission to remove signs.

Maureen Sundstrom, an attorney running for council, said she has seen her signs go missing from Mistretta’s property as well as other locations in the city.

A sign was removed from a residential property as well, she said. She has yet to find them.

“None of my signs are making it back to the city yard, so somebody is taking them and keeping them, which I guess brings up the issue with this commercial property owner,” Sundstrom said.

“I understand at least one of the other candidates had permission from one of the businesses there to put the sign up and even absent of that (Mistretta) is not entitled to take the signs and keep them. Those signs are personal property and as a commercial property owner he should know better.”

Sundstrom said she is considering filing a police report.

So far this election, no reports have been filed with the Upland Police Department regarding stolen signs, according to police.

Candidate Debbie Stone, funeral director for Stone Funeral Home, said after seeing photos of a man, later identified as Mistretta, taking signs from the shopping center property, she went to the Police Department.

“I didn’t now who he was,” Stone said. “They checked it out and let me know he was the property owner and he has the right to remove them, which is fine. I do wish he would have returned them or given us the opportunity to retrieve them. Those are long gone. Nobody knows where they are.”

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