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City Councilman's daughter caught stealing opponent's campaign signs

Posted: 6:13 PM, Oct 28, 2016
Updated: 2016-10-31 21:27:03Z

POWAY, Calif. - A Poway City Council candidate tracked down the person responsible for his disappearing campaign signs and was shocked to learn who was behind it.

Candidate Joe Calabrese couldn't figure out why his campaign signs kept disappearing across Poway.

He didn't know who was doing it, until he caught his opponent's daughter right in the act.

"I'm a real Powaynian, and I can be a real help to the city," Calabrese said.

The first-time candidate is facing a challenge spreading that word, so he bought more than 20 red signs to get that message to voters. He put them on private land, with permission, but they weren't staying.

"I noticed a whole bunch of them were missing, which is really frustrating because I've lost over a third of my signs," he said.

That frustration boiled over this week, when Calabrese saw a woman in her 20s lifting his sign outside of a Jersey Mike's restaurant.

"From 50 to 100 feet away I spotted the girl carrying my sign, and I'm just thinking, 'Holy cow, I caught them in the act!'" Calabrese said.

Calabrese confronted the woman, who gave him back his sign and drove away with a friend.

Calabrese wasn't done. He followed her until close enough to snap a picture of her license plate. Sherriff's deputies traced the license plate back to incumbent Councilman Barry Leonard.

"It was his daughter driving the car," Calabrse said.

Leonard's daughter apologized to the three candidates, and Calabrese said he doesn't want to press charges.

"She's the sweetest, nicest girl," he said.

Calabrese does, however, want Leonard to drop out of the race.

Leonard said in a statement that he didn't know what his daughter was doing.

"I was surprised, shocked and disappointed by her actions. Under no circumstances would I condone such behavior," Leonard said. "I love my daughter as much as any father can but my daughter’s actions were wrong and she will need to face whatever the appropriate consequences are."