Richard Hyatt: Signgate brings back memories

May 10, 2014 

Yard signs are supposed to lead voters to the polls. Sometimes they lead to mischief.

It happened again last week as a top aide of Teresa Tomlinson asked a supporter of the mayor's opponent if she could have a Colin Martin campaign sign for her very own.

Thus began our latest childish brouhaha over political signs that cost candidates less than $4 a pop and this time cost the mayor's executive assistant the public humiliation of a two-day suspension.

A Martin supporter recognized Judith Tucker after Tomlinson's longtime aide claimed she was new to town and wanted one of the challenger's signs to put in her yard. Tucker said she planned to play a practical joke on her boss but in the end no one was laughing.

The silly little story created a social media buzz and soon people in both camps were throwing out sarcastic barbs.

Tucker apologized. Martin said no harm, no foul. Tomlinson said the escapade did not violate city policies but that people in the mayor's office were held to high standards and that warranted Tucker's suspension.

"She was devastated," the mayor said.

This playground prank is a throwback to other campaigns in other years. There was an incident in Harris County that left pie on the face of a Columbus State University professor and other episodes involving candidates in Muscogee County.

The most memorable event came years ago on a night that a Republican incumbent and some of his supporters went around the district stealing his primary opponent's signs. Alcohol was involved and so was stupidity. They got caught and the challenger got elected.

Most of the guys caught taking down the opposition's signs look back and laugh at the whole situation, but one of them never seemed to get over the personal embarrassment.

Years later, before a party celebrating his 50th birthday, his friends called the candidate whose signs they were pilfering that night and asked if he still had one of his old campaign signs. He did, and they wrapped it up for a gag gift.

The present was unwrapped at the birthday party, but even then their friend wasn't able to see the humor in what happened.

Hopefully, it won't be that way for Judith Tucker, and one day she will learn to laugh about this current chapter of Signgate.

-- Richard Hyatt is an independent correspondent. Reach him at

Ledger-Enquirer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service

Top Jobs

View All Top Jobs

Find a Home

$193,000 Columbus
4 bed, 3 full bath. This like new-less than 1 year old quality...

Find a Car

Search New Cars