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County employee destroys campaign sign, faces possible discipline

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A Washoe County employee faces possible disciplinary action this week after she removed and destroyed a campaign sign posted near Sparks Senior Center on Tuesday. The candidate, Christine Garvey, reported the incident to county leadership on Thursday. 

Christine Garvey

“When I introduced myself and asked [the employee] if she knew anything about the missing sign that had been placed an hour earlier, she told me she knew who I was and yes, she did know what happened to my sign,” Garvey said. “She went on to tell me, quite proudly, that she’s the one that cut down my sign because it was ‘propaganda.’”

Garvey said the employee claimed her supervisors had repeatedly told her to remove any “propaganda” from the senior center. 

Garvey is running for Sparks City Council Ward 1 against incumbent Donald Abbott and Nicolas Lee. She said she posted the campaign sign on a fence located on private property to the east of the senior center. She noted that County Commissioner Mariluz Garcia had posted a campaign sign at the same location during the 2022 primary and general elections with no issues. 

A campaign sign for Mariluz Garcia can be seen posted to a homeowner’s fence facing the parking lot of the Sparks Senior Center in 2022. Sparks City Council candidate Christine Garvey said she placed a campaign sign there on May 14 and within an hour it had been removed and destroyed by a Washoe County employee.

Washoe County spokesperson Candee Ramos confirmed the incident and said an investigation is underway. However, any disciplinary action would remain a confidential personnel matter, she said.

“The county is working on reimbursement for the property owner, as well as an apology,” Ramos said. “The employee was acting of her own accord, with county leadership never having given instructions to remove signs to any employee.”

The county’s employee guidelines, which Ramos said were shared March 21 as a reminder for employees during election season, prohibit employees from engaging in political activity during work and advise against discussing politics in the workplace.

“Use good judgment and remember to always be respectful and mindful of the fact that there are many different views and perspectives, and it’s best not to distract others with individual opinions,” the memo states.  

Garvey said she wanted to believe the best in public employees but felt targeted because of past campaigns she’d run against current elected officials with close ties to county leadership.

“Apparently, it matters who is running for an elected office whether the county and its employees consider their campaign sign legitimate or identify it as ‘propaganda’ that must be destroyed,” Garvey said. “Even NDOT removes, but doesn’t destroy signs.” 

Washoe County and the City of Sparks both permit campaign signage on private property. County policy states that signs placed in unlawful locations will be removed and stored for 30 days until the owner can come to get them. 

Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth
Kristen Hackbarth is a freelance editor and communications professional with more than 20 years’ experience working in marketing, public relations and communications in northern Nevada. Kristen graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno with a degree in photography and minor in journalism and has a Master of Science in Management and Leadership. She also serves as director of communications for Nevada Cancer Coalition, a statewide nonprofit. Though she now lives in Atlanta, she is a Nevadan for life and uses her three-hour time advantage to get a jump on the morning’s news.

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