Judicial campaign signs vandalized in Richland

RICHLAND — Four large campaign signs for a Benton County judicial candidate were vandalized this weekend in Richland in what is being considered a personal attack.

The signs for lawyer Dan Kathren, who is running for a Benton County District Court seat, are on George Washington Way around Franklin and Saint streets.

The signs were defaced with scratch marks and graffiti using permanent markers, and include comments that could be interpreted as obscene or geared at leading voters astray, said the candidate's father, Ron Kathren.

It was done sometime between noon Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, he said.

"I think it's definitely a personal attack, if you look at it. His are the only (vandalized) signs, and the scratching out of his name?" said Ron Kathren. "Some of the comments are really not fully readable but they imply he's dishonest, unethical. It's clearly personal."

Dan Kathren of Richland is on vacation with his family. His father is a member of his campaign committee and contacted Richland police.

Kathren will face off against federal prosecutor Alex Ekstrom. The position is currently held by Judge Holly Hollenbeck, who will retire at year's end.

Kathren has been in private practice since 1996 handling criminal and civil matters.

"This could have been kids who think something like that is funny and want to disrupt the electoral process. Or it could be a former client of his," Ron Kathren said. "I don't think this was done by his opponent's campaign."

He said the 4-by-6-foot signs are expensive, but didn't know the price tag. For now the signs will stay in place, but he believes they'll need to be replaced because they "look pretty bad."

"It's just not right. It's not the right thing to do," Kathren said.

Richland police could not be reached Sunday evening to comment on the vandalism.