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Marion, IL

City council candidate threatened by vandals

City council candidate threatened by vandals
By: Carly O'Keefe

MARION, Ill. - Carolyn Swartos says she's trying to run a clean campaign, but vandals have seen to it that she spends a good chunk of her time cleaning up.  Swartos is one of eight candidates vying for four Marion City Council seats, but she's the only one being targeted by vandals.

At first, Swartos thought the cake mix, pasta, doughnuts, and unused tampons tossed on her front yard were the work of kids. But after five different incidents of vandalism that have occurred since she began her campaign, she's starting to think it has to do with politics.

On Monday, Swartos came home from the Marion City Council meeting to find a dozen peach green tea bottles littering her yard.

"I had to open one up to make sure it wasn't urine, because after having tampons in your yard, I just wanted to make sure it hadn't gotten nastier," said Swartos.

Beyond nasty--she says one instance was especially threatening.

"The police came and made a report on it, they actually took long-john doughnuts and took black magic marker, and wrote on them...They said ‘check your brakes', ‘we're going to get you', ‘you need to change', and just watch out," said Swartos.

Police say they've seen many cases of political signs being stolen in the past, but nothing quite this extreme. Swartos has filed several police reports and there is an on-going investigation.    

"If someone wants to run for office at the national, state or local level, they should be allowed to do that without harassment or intimidation," said Marion Police Sergeant Gene Goolsby.

Swartos never used to lock her doors, now she's installed a security system. But the threats and vandalism haven't weakened her resolve.

"I'm going to persevere; I'm going to keep going. Win or lose," said Swartos.

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