Two candidates running for city council in southwest Edmonton’s Ward 9 have become the victim of vandals.
Candidate Sandy Pon said someone destroyed one of her 4×8-foot campaign signs earlier this month. It was on a supporter’s private property in the Rutherford area.
Pon, who is a realtor and has lived in southwest Edmonton for over 20 years, said she has never dealt with this type of situation — even with her “for sale” signs.
“The way it was done was very deliberate,” she said, adding the signs are quite durable and hard to damage. “It was slashed across and also ripped down.”
Pon did not put up a new sign, fearful the vandal would return and possibly damage the homeowner’s property as well.
The incident was caught on a resident’s surveillance video system. Pon says her team tracked the damage to some people she says have been calling her racial slurs and saying misogynistic things on social media.
“Those social media comments, they accused me of being thin-skinned, being a woman, you know, being Chinese. All this other stuff. It was pretty disgusting.”
She said she didn’t report the incidents to police because she doesn’t want to dwell on the words and actions of a few hateful people.
“It’s not like the house was damaged — it was just my sign,” Pon told Global News. “And this happens a lot in campaigns of any kind. And the other thing is, I do need to show we are resilient and more level-headed — we are not going to be startled too much.”
Another candidate says a vehicle belonging to one of his supporters was vandalized. Payman Parseyan has supplied window decals for his volunteers’ vehicles, and on Sunday night the back window of a car was smashed.
“If you want to damage my stuff — I mean, I’m not inviting you to — but I prefer my stuff be damaged than my supporters’. They’ve been kind enough to want to support me,” Parseyan said.
Parseyan, who eschewed traditional lawn signs in favour of larger fence signs and vehicle stickers, said his campaign materials have been vandalized since the beginning of July when they went up.
“Started with signs and moved to my vehicle. My personal vehicle, an Audi, was damaged to the point where it was a total loss,” he said. He has since replaced the car with a cargo van wrapped in campaign decals, and has filed a police report.
Parseyan doesn’t know why his signage was vandalized but has his suspicions.
“I appear to be shown an overwhelming amount of support. I think, often times, there’s a balance in the world with every aspect. When there’s a lot of support shown, some people may want to seek the attention for an underdog or whatever the case may be, act immaturely, and do something they shouldn’t.”
While the race has officially been underway for just over a week, candidates in Ward 9 have been unofficially campaigning for months. A community forum was held in May and candidates have been drumming up support ever since.
There are five people running in Ward 9. The other candidates are Rob Agostinis, a doctor who is also involved in several community organizations, Tim Cartmell, an engineer project manager, and Mark Hope, a resident pushing for change.
The Ward 9 seat is being vacated by Bryan Anderson, a 19-year council veteran who is retiring.
The next public forum is taking place Thursday night at the Terwillegar Community Church (1751 Towne Centre Blvd.), from 7 to 9 p.m.
The election is on Monday, Oct. 16.