PIctured: Jim Wells County Sheriff candidate Enrique Saenz recovered some of his signs, which he says are being removed from locations throughout the county. MAURICIO JULIAN CUELLAR JR.

APD officer running for JWC sheriff

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

Jim Wells County Sheriff candidate Enrique Saenz is getting a rough introduction to South Texas politics.

Over the past month, his campaign has filed three reports with the Alice Police Department regarding political signs that were stolen from various locations and one attempt to force payments from him for placing signs.

Saenz said Monday that over the past month he has had eight large signs, valued at more than $60 each, and as many as 30 small signs removed from various locations.

"People have been seen cutting them down," Saenz said. "I've found a few of them thrown in the street."

According to the Alice Police Department reports, in one instance an individual approached Saenz and offered to help him place political signs throughout the city. Once the signs were in place, however, the individual then demanded $650 a week to keep those signs in place and to have an additional sign placed in the back of a truck that would drive around town.

When Saenz, who had made arrangements with other property owners to have his campaign signs displayed for free, declined to pay the individual, the man refused to return his political signs, according to the report.

Following that conversation, additional signs were taken from other locations, the report stated.

Saenz, who is currently employed by the Alice Police Department as a patrol officer, declined to identify the individual and the suspect's name was withheld from police reports because no official charges have been filed against him.

On Monday, Saenz got word that three of his missing large signs had been thrown behind a business at the intersection of Cameron and Laura streets, and he was able to recover them.

A first-time political candidate, Saenz said the experience of having individuals attempt to force money from him and of having his signs stolen has changed his outlook on the system.

"It's left a real bad taste in my mouth," Saenz said. "It's all about the money, it's not about who can bring change to the community."