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Madeira Beach mayoral election meets controversy after video surfaces of man removing political sign

A video shared with 10 Tampa Bay shows a man taking a Doug Andrews sign and walking away with it. Andrews says that man supports his opponent.

MADEIRA BEACH, Fla. — A controversial video has some in Madeira Beach asking questions about the mayoral race.

A forum was held Thursday night for mayoral candidates, Doug Andrews and Jim Rostek.

The major focal point during the forum was development on Madeira Beach. People in the community came out because they want to see where each candidate stands. Andrews leans toward supporting development, while Rostek is mostly against.

Residents said they also came out because they wanted to see if the candidates would address a controversial video.

A man seen on video, whom Andrews said supports Rostek, removed Andrews’ sign stuck in the ground and is then seen on video walking off with it.

"There’s been a little snafued this weekend with someone on his competitor side stealing campaign signs," a woman who has lived in Madeira Beach for 13 years, Audrey Cevaer, said.

Andrews talked one on one with 10 Tampa Bay. He said he called the police after dozens of his signs disappeared.

"It’s childish," Andrews said. "In the last two weeks since the election started, I’ve lost 53 signs."

Andrews said he had written permission to have his sign there.  Removing a political sign is a class three misdemeanor in Florida. 

10 Tampa Bay spoke with each candidate about the video. Rostek called it, “uncalled for, illegal."

"I don’t condone it. I’m running this campaign myself," he added.

Andrews added, "Completely illegal. At minimum, it’s theft."

That’s one of the few things they agree on. Development is where they strongly differ.

"We’ve gone from a city where we were a sleepy little fishing village and now we’ve turned into a tourist attraction," Andrews explained.

Andrews believes development is improving Madeira Beach.

"Why don’t we build something that’s going to be nice and a benefit to the city," Cevaer who agrees, added.

Rostek worries about infrastructure to support development.

"[It] Impacts everyone in the city from a traffic standpoint, an infrastructure standpoint," Rostek said.

Andrews added, "Nobody wants overdevelopment and nobody wants to turn into Clearwater Beach."

In about six weeks, voters will decide which vision is best for Madeira Beach. 

In the final stretch, both candidates hope their visions for development outweigh the signs of dirty politics.

The election is on March 14, 2023.

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