Submitted by Elaine Cimino, Rio Rancho resident
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Political signs being stolen and vandalized in Rio Rancho goes beyond adolescents’ pranks. For years now there have been political signs stolen and vandalized that have targeted mainly women, and men and women of color candidates along with their party affiliations. They are finding that harassment and threats, already common for women, are being amplified in political races — especially if the candidate is a member of a minority group. Barbara Jordan is Rio Rancho’s first Black woman mayoral candidate. She deserves to have her signs on every street corner and private residence in the city without fear or intimidation. On a social media neighborhood site, there have been racist tropes used where comments had to be turned off. This type of hate speech and actions violate the law.
Complaints to the local administration and police department need to be followed up on and not ignored. While there is no independent organization that tracks complaints, there are alternatives such as the US Department of Justice in filing a civil rights complaint under Title 7 and as a 14th Amendment equal protection violation.
Our local District Attorney, Barbara Romo, has the authority to enlist the help of an elections prosecutor under NMSA 1979 Chapter 1 -20, 1-2-1.1. We need to remind these perps in Rio Rancho that this is a censorship issue and also falls under a violation of the First Amendment but they can be charged with conspiracy and intimidation which are criminal offenses. Once the violators are found guilty of the Fourth-degree felony under 1-20-15 for fear and intimidation of a voter (who is also a candidate) they will be looking at fines and jail time.
For far too long has the bullies of partisan politics gotten away scot-free and have not been held accountable which has resulted in this criminal activity becoming more emboldened.
Political signs reflect people’s core values. Stealing or trashing them stifles this expression. None of us has the right to silence our neighbors whether we agree with them or not. There have been multiple signs stolen and vandalized.
Part of living in a democracy is respecting different points of view. Otherwise, just skip the election and do what the Soviet Union or the autocratic government of Hungary does: put an X by a name in that position and pretend we had an election because that is what the X on Barbara Jordan’s signs mean. I would go as far as to say this is the equivalent of a hate crime. Barbara Jordan has fought and served in the US Air Force, for our country in Afghanistan; she is highly qualified to serve our city. She and her family deserve our respect.
Anyone having information on who vandalized and is disrespecting our neighbor please report it to Barbara Jordan’s Campaign — Barbara Jordan 4 RR, Sandoval County Democratic Party and to the Rio Rancho Police Department.
Elaine Cimino is an activist, artist and author who lives in Rio Rancho.
*Editor’s Note: We asked mayoral Candidate Jordan to comment on the vandalizing of her political signs. “This is exactly why we need change here in Rio Rancho, NM. We can no longer stay in ‘the good ole days’ for some. We must move forward to make Rio Rancho a City of Vision for ALL!,” she replied.