Statesboro city council candidate Lance Turner said Friday he wonders if he's the victim of some political dirty tricks after his car was vandalized and his campaign signs stolen Thursday.
Turner is challenging incumbent Gary Lewis for the District 2 seat on the council. Sam Jones and the Rev. Donald Logan also are seeking Lewis' seat.
Turner said he heard an odd noise the night before, but he and his neighbors thought it was a tree limb falling. Now, he said he thinks it was someone slamming his hood.
When he got into his white 1991 Lincoln Towncar Thursday and began driving, he noticed the car was not operating well. He pulled over, and noticed the hood was not completely closed.
Upon inspection he said he found sabotage.
"The air flow system was smashed, and they cut the fuel line," he said Friday.
They also stole four campaign signs from the car, Turner said.
Turner called police to report the theft and damages. He said he wonders if he was targeted for the vandalism because he is running for office.
"I don't want to speculate, but I am hearing from the community that I am ruffling feathers by challenging an incumbent," he said.
Lewis has held the District 2 seat for 13 years.
"I don't know anything about that," Lewis said. "I got signs missing too."
Turner said he had no evidence pointing to Lewis or anyone connected to his campaign, but "it's very odd. I have no idea why anybody would randomly want to tamper with my car. It's not something that just happens."
Lewis said it could not have been anyone in his campaign because "...nobody works in my campaign but me. He needs to make a police report."
Statesboro Police Officer Kyle Smallegan responded to Turner's Jewel Drive home, where the incident occurred. After taking the report, Smallegan turned the case over to the Statesboro Police Criminal Investigations Division.
The two other District 2 contenders said they had encountered no problems with their campaign or otherwise.
"I don't have any signs out," Logan said. "I plan to start this week. (Possible theft) is one reason I don't like to put signs out too early."
Regarding Turner's troubles, he said, "This is the first I've heard about anything of that nature."
Jones also said he has had no problems with anyone tampering with campaign signs.
Upon learning about the vandalism to Turner's car and the campaign sign theft, he said: "That's interesting. I didn't know it was that crazy. That blows my mind. (Turner) hasn't ruffled my feathers. I'm cool with him and Mr. Lewis. I'm totally shocked, and sorry it happened."
Turner said he is "taking this as motivation to do right in this district. If I am ruffling feathers, I am doing the right thing."
Lewis said "Politics are dirty, but they aren't that dirty for me. I'm sorry it's happening and if I can help him in any way I'll be glad to. I think it's a shame and it's not going to prove anything."
Turner, a former Georgia Southern University football player, said he recalls the words of former coach Mike Sewak.
"Never be intimidated by an opponent and always focus in doing right, is what he told me," he said. "I feel the people of District 2 are tired of these tactics and hoping for someone to stand up and stop this type of inexcusable behavior."
Anyone with information on the incident is asked to contact the Statesboro Police Department at (912) 764-9911.
Holli Deal Bragg can be reached at (912) 489-9414.