A Lake Elsinore man was arrested Sunday after officers found several items in his home linking him to recent taggings on area election campaign signs.
Lake Elsinore police arrested Craig Otto, 23, in connection with the vandalism, said Sgt. Raymond Nava with the Lake Elsinore Police Department.
Nava said on Friday, officers found election campaign signs posted in the area of Riverside Drive and Grand Avenue vandalized with spray paint, crossing out a specific candidate’s name.
The signs vandalized were those of incumbent’s Kim Cousins, president and CEO of the Lake Elsinore Valley Chamber of Commerce.
Cousins is vying for one of three seats on the Lake Elsinore Unified school board on the Nov. 2 ballot.
A total of 31 of Cousins’ signs were damaged.
Cousins said he feels the vandalism was an act of retaliation against his son-in-law.
In areas where multiple candidates placed signs, only his was defaced, Cousins said.
“It’s unfortunate to take it out on me. If you don’t like my position, vote your conscience at the poll.”
Cousins said in all his years running for office, he had never seen vandalism to election signs like this.
“You have the occasional ‘mischief-ness’ out there, with signs being knocked over, pushed down. But this is different.”
Cousins said many around town have voiced their opinions about the vandalism.
“They’re very mad about what’s happened and say it’s un-American.”
While the act is frustrating, Cousins said “it’s all behind us now,” and is spending his time and energy trying to clean up the mess.
He said there are quite a few signs that cannot be salvaged.