Democratic congressional candidate Missa Eaton has some friends – and foes – in northeast Mercer County, apparently.
Her friends are members of the Northeast Democrats of Mercer County, a group led by Fred Hlusko that works with a limited budget to advance the party’s cause in the Stoneboro-Sandy Lake area.
Her foes are members of the Great Stoneboro Fair Board, some of whom acted swiftly to remove a billboard touting her candidacy against incumbent Rep. Mike Kelly, a Republican.
The Northeast Democrats last week rented the billboard near the entrance to the Stoneboro Fairgrounds and had it painted to proclaim “Millionaires Don’t Care About Social Security or Medicare - Vote Missa Eaton For Congress.”
The message was stifled by the powers that be at the fair, however, according to Hlusko.
The Democratic group, which is not affiliated with Eaton’s campaign, paid about $500 to rent the billboard. General Outdoor Advertising Inc., a Masury-based company owned by Dave Urey, owns the billboard.
Urey confirmed leasing it to the Democratic group and said his agreement with the Great Stoneboro Fair contains no political restrictions against potential advertisers.
Urey declined to elaborate on the removal of the billboard he had been leasing since the mid to late 1990s.
“It’s been unsettling,” he said.
Last year, the campaign for Republican candidate Pete Acker, who ran unsuccessfully for county judge, leased the space, without incident, Urey said.
But the message supporting Eaton was “stifled” by fair board vice president Donald Barbour, according to Hlusko, who described Barbour as a “prominent Republican.”
Hlusko spoke with Barbour on the phone and tried to set up a face-to-face meeting to resolve any issues, but that “he got pretty upset with me, said he owned it and they could do damn well what they wanted,” Hlusko said.
“I told him as far as I was concerned that I have a problem with that,” he said.
The billboard, which was painted Thursday was initially covered with burlap Friday, then completely removed by that night, Hlusko said.
“Hopefully, people are outraged by this,” Hlusko said.
He said he plans to contact Democratic Party lawyers to see if he has any legal recourse to the fair board’s actions.
Barbour didn’t return messages seeking comment Sunday night left at his home and at the fair office. Great Stoneboro Fair Board President Ron Carkin also couldn’t be reached for comment.
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