A candidate for Metro Council told The City Paper Monday he’s filing charges against the son of the incumbent council member he’s trying defeat for allegedly trespassing and stealing yard signs.
Jason Potts, running for the council’s District 30 seat in August’s elections, said he received a phone call last Thursday night from a supporter, notifying him a white male in a black car was driving on East Ridge Drive and stealing Potts’ yard signs. After running the license plate number and matching the description with allegations from other neighbors, Potts determined the driver was 33-year-old Ethan Hodge, son of Councilman Jim Hodge.
Potts, the only candidate challenging Hodge’s re-election bid, had been holding out for an apology from Ethan Hodge, he said. But as of Monday afternoon, he said he hadn’t received one. He’s now planning to file charges.
“If he would give me an apology and reimburse me for the signs, and promise not to touch them again, that would be sufficient enough, and I would drop the charges,” Potts said. “But, I haven’t heard anything from them.”
Hodge, the councilman of the Haywood Lane area seat, said his son was simply picking up signs placed illegally in public-right-of-ways, noting that the council’s Codes, Fair and Farmers Market Committee held a meeting recently that dealt with that very topic.
“He had been out with me earlier in the year when we picked up ‘We Buy Junk Car’ signs and all the stuff you see around intersections,” Hodge said. “We just dispose of them. He was doing what he’s seen me do.
“But he didn’t realize political signs were off limits,” Hodge said.
Metro Police spokeswoman Kristin Mumford confirmed the suspect is Ethan Hodge. She said police are still investigating whether the yard signs were stolen from private properties or removed from public right-of-ways.
Potts said he talked to Metro detectives Monday morning and told them of his intentions to pursue charges. Potts claims the signs weren’t placed in public spaces but, instead, clearly in the yards of supporters.
In all, Potts said 22 campaign signs went missing, eight of which Potts said the elder Hodge returned. Potts said he’s received an apology from the councilman, but not his son.
Hodge said his son has been out of town but plans to apologize to Potts “face to face.”
“I’ve told him it wouldn’t happen again,” the councilman said of his conversation with Potts.
In campaigns, Hodge said signs have a way of “walking.” He said he’s probably missing 40 signs but doesn’t believe anyone “stole them,” adding that a combination of factors usually contribute to their disappearance.