At 9pm on the evening of Wednesday, August 15, Palmetto Bay resident and Village Council candidate John Dubois was driving by SW 168 St and Old Cutler when he noticed a bronze GMC Silverado pick-up truck parked on the side of the road. As an area where political campaign signs are often staked, he found the vehicle’s presence odd. He parked in the adjacent Starbucks lot and observed the driver exit the vehicle, look around to make sure no one was in the vicinity, and witnessed “an older lady with a dark blue baseball cap” remove one of his political campaign signs.
Dubois said the woman then went to the nearby shopping center and removed a second sign. When she was attempting to take a third one from the Farm Stores across the street, he pulled his pick-up truck (with three magnetic Dubois political signs attached to it) behind her before she could get it. Upon noticing him, she immediately drove away according to Dubois.
What followed was a car chase through Palmetto Bay, Pinecrest, South Miami, Coconut Grove, onto I-95, the 836 extension, and into North Miami before Dubois was able to essentially corner her in front of him. He then exited his vehicle and took ample photographs of her, her vehicle, and the 18 to 20 political campaign signs visible in the open bed of her truck before she fled.
“When she saw me she sheepishly turned her head away like a dog that had just taken a piece of steak off the kitchen table,” said Dubois. “I was in shock when I recognized who it was.” During the chase he called the 911 dispatch and shared her license plate number. Although he was advised to discontinue pursuit, he opted to keep following her. At one point during the chase Dubois said she flung a few of his signs out of her vehicle.
Palmetto Bay is no stranger to dysfunctional politics. There is an effort afoot to remove Mayor Shelly Stanczyk from office based on a perception that the many years the village has fought the Palmetto Trinity School expansion (which appears likely to cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars) has become a personal agenda issue not representative of what is best for the community at large.
Miami Dade Police Lieutenant and Commander of the Village of Palmetto Bay Policing Unit Gregory Truitt would only state that it was an “ongoing investigation.” “I followed her because I wanted my signs back and I wanted to know who was doing it,” said Dubois.
Dubois said he recognized the woman because she had attended a “Coffee with John” campaign event a few months ago. “She tried to monopolize the conversation with negativism at the event. I addressed her issues and answered all her questions and it was amicable. Ever since then I would say hello if I saw her. I had no reason to believe she would attempt to undermine my campaign.”
He has yet to decide whether or not he will officially file charges against her. “I have a legal right to file suit against her,” Dubois said. “I haven’t decided yet if I will. I certainly hope she learned her lesson.”
Dubois said it was not a very high speed chase because they were both in pick-up trucks however “she was making quick turns and wiggling her vehicle around almost in a threatening manner to hit me if I approached her too closely.”
When asked what was going through his mind upon discovering it was an area resident he knew, Dubois said, “It was a feeling of betrayal. I knew she wasn’t supporting me, but I thought she was a nice civil person. Perhaps she is a bit aggressive in her convictions in interfering with public events but never did I think she would do anything like that.”
The experience ultimately has energized his efforts to win the election said Dubois. “I was happy to see that she was alone in the vehicle. There have been lots of stolen signs over the years…it needs to stop. We need to get this underhanded dishonest cult out of control of our council.”
The suspect sign stealer could not be reached for comment. Community Newspapers is awaiting a public copy of the police report to confirm her identity. The police report is: PD120815311925.