VERMILION — Jean Anderson, mayoral candidate in Vermilion, said that her campaign volunteer was only expressing concern for a local business when he told a bait-and-tackle shop that they might lose 2,000 customers for refusing to put up an Anderson sign in front of their store.
On Monday a volunteer for Anderson, who’s running against Eileen Bulan for mayor, entered Bad Boy Bait, Tackle & More to ask to display a campaign sign. When told he couldn’t put up the sign, he responded, “I’d hate to have 2,000 people boycott your business,” according to employee Jennifer Urban.
“We don’t need that kind of thing,” said store owner Larry Woods, adding that he wanted to keep the store out of the election debate. Woods said that the store isn’t allowed to post any election signs without the building owner’s consent. The pro-Bulan poster in front of the store was put up by the building’s owner.
Anderson said her campaign volunteer went into the store because he saw the Bulan sign in front of the building.
“It’s fair to ask them to put both signs out,” Anderson said.
Anderson supports her volunteer’s response in the incident and said that her main concern was for small businesses in Vermilion.
“He just didn’t want my supporters boycotting their business,” Anderson said. “If my supporters see that (the store refused to put the sign up) they might go somewhere else.”
Woods said he is nervous that people might boycott after the incident.
“We’re one of three bait-and-tackle stores in Vermilion … 2,000 people (boycotting) might close us,” he said.
Anderson said she doesn’t know if her supporters will boycott Bad Boy Bait, Tackle & More, but she added, “My supporters won’t like (the store’s refusal to put the sign up).”
Anderson plans to talk to Woods in person about the incident.
“You don’t want to see any backlashes,” she said.