MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. (KTVU) - Mountain View Police have identified 73-year-old Job Lopez as the vandal caught on camera defacing campaign signs. 69-year-old John Inks, a candidate running for Mountain View City Council, said he’s being targeted for his stance on rent control.
Home surveillance video captured a clear picture of the vandal last Friday at 3:30 a.m. cloaked in a hoodie, ball cap and sunglasses with a spray can in hand. He takes off with a campaign sign.
“This is an attack on the democratic process and it's completely out of line,” said Inks. “Most people in this community don't condone actions at all.”
Inks is a Libertarian who's seeking his third term on city council. He said it started in August. Other cameras around town show a man in similar attire. In all, Inks said seven signs have been vandalized and dozens of yard signs swiped.
“This right here when you obliterate and steal signs on a regular basis,” said Inks. “The reaction from people I’ve shown here like other city council members is shock.”
Police saw the video and identified the vandal as Lopez, a long-time Mountain View resident described as a passionate advocate. He helped pass a rent control ballot measure in 2016. Inks has been a vocal critic of rent control.
KTVU tracked Lopez down at his house and tried to talk to him. He quickly drove off, waving to the camera.
“I was surprised, it doesn't seem to be in his character,” said Lopez’s Neighbor Jenni Gaderlund. “He’s a really good person and a good neighbor. We like him very much and we like his family.”
Gaderland said Lopez is an active community member, who's especially concerned with the plight of those less fortunate.
“If it is him, I would think that maybe he just got a little too passionate about the cause,” said Gaderlund.
“With most community groups, we don't have this kind of vandalism,” said Inks. “It’s very anti-democratic behavior. It's just not effective and not constructive.”
Supporters have now put plastic over some of the signs to protect them against spray paint. Police cited Lopez with petty theft and for vandalism. He’s scheduled to appear in court in December. Inks is considering taking him to small claims court.
Although the City Council race is non-partisan, Inks said he identifies as a libertarian and doesn't support rent control. He believes his signs were targeted due to his political and economic beliefs, and described Lopez as a "passionate rent control supporter."
"He's an older man, like me. To be going out there at three or four in the morning, I wouldn't have guessed he would do that," Inks said.
Inks said his campaign hasn't been affected by the vandalism because he doesn't personally put up the signs. He said he's focusing on traditional campaign elements like canvassing and speaking with constituents, and described the sign vandalism as "an ugly sideshow" during the campaign.