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Solages alleges town employee stole campaign signs

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Each October comes the proliferation of political lawn signs, dotting Nassau County’s suburban landscape with candidates’ names and slogans.

Campaigns, whether they be county, town, state, city or village, can spend hundreds, often thousands of dollars on the printed, plastic markers and inevitably, each cycle also brings allegations of their theft.

On Sept. 25, incumbent Nassau County Legislator Carrié Solages, a Democrat from Valley Stream, filed a notice of claim against the Town of Hempstead alleging that on June 28 at around 12:30 p.m., at least one town employee stole his campaign signs from three locations in Elmont, including in front of his law office on Dutch Broadway, and is seeking $630 in damages for the stolen property. In addition to the town, the claim was also filed against its Highway Department and Sanitary District No. 6.

While he acknowledged the issue of stolen campaign signs is not new, Solages said in an interview that it was because the alleged theft took place at around noon, and was carried out by what appeared to be at least one Town of Hempstead employee, that it raised cause for additional concern.

“This is a form of voter intimidation,” he said. “And if you see town employees on the clock removing political signs from private property, you report that.”

Along with the notice of claim, surveillance video evidence was submitted and viewed by the Herald, which appeared to show a man wearing a yellow reflective vest emerging from a blue Town Highway Department truck and removing a pair of large signs from a fence abutting Solages’ law office.

Solages said he was only seeking to be reimbursed for the lost signs, not to punish a town employee.

In response, Town of Hempstead Supervisor Laura Gillen said in a statement that she was taking the allegations seriously and had opened an investigation, adding “I’m committed to fully investigating any and all alleged corruption practices that take place in the Town of Hempstead.”

The date of the alleged theft took place shortly after the conclusion of Elmont resident Monique Hardial’s Democratic primary challenge against Solages, in which he handily won, garnering 77 percent of the vote.

Now, deep in a general election race against Republican challenger Nathan Wein of Inwood, Solages said the timing of the notice of claim was not intended to be political, but needed to be submitted before the state’s 90-day filing deadline for cases against municipalities.