WESTCHESTER, Fla. – A political candidate says he is the victim of Miami's nasty politics.
Fernandez, a father of three who heads his own personal injury litigation firm, says surveillance video shows a thief in action. A woman, who was wearing polka dots, got off a red hatchback to steal campaign signs early Monday morning.
"In politics nowadays, particularly here in Miami, no one cares ... these signs cost money they take time and effort to put out there," Fernandez said.
Fernandez is vying to succeed Rep. Michael Bileca. The contested district covers areas of Cutler Bay, Kendall, Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Westchester, Fountainebleau and Doral.
Vance Aloupis, a Republican lawyer who is the chief operating officer of The Children's Movement of Florida, is running against Fernandez. He released a statement on Friday night alleging that it was all a farce, because Fernandez was having to deal with the remnants of a lawsuit.
"This is just another desperate, feeble attempt by an individual with no record of accomplishments trying to smear his opponents," Aloupis said in a statement released by the Flagler Strategy Group.
Carlos Gobel, a Republican real estate appraiser who is also running for House District 115, said he doesn't doubt a thief stole Fernandez's campaign signs. He said he has also lost several in the Killian area. He believes some candidates will do anything for an edge.
"Just the other day a volunteer for my campaign said he was followed by two women in a large black SUV and they’d visit homes soon after we did. Feeling they were up to no good, he went back to a few of the homes where we had left door hangers only to find ours gone and an opponent’s hanging instead," Gobel wrote in an e-mail.
Rhonda Lopez, who is also running for House District 115, also released a written statement condemning the "childish" actions and saying that she much rather focus on the issues affecting the residents of the area.
"Mr. Fernandez would do well to report this incident to the police instead of grandstanding for the press and stop avoiding the real problems which confront every resident of District 115," Lopez wrote.
Fernandez, who hadn't filed a police report as of Friday night, said he wants the woman to come forward. He is also offering a $1,000 reward for information that could help him identify the culprit. He was asking anyone with information to call 305-890-2431.