MESQUITE – In what has already become a passionate primary election season, the mayor of Sunnyvale said a Dallas County Justice of the Peace was caught on camera vandalizing one of his campaign signs.
“He's very recognizable. It's Judge Bill Metzger,” said Jim Phaup, Sunnyvale’s mayor who is now a Republican candidate for Texas House District 113.
Phaup’s sign was on an empty lot next door to Metzger’s home in Mesquite.
After one of Phaup’s signs was knocked down over the weekend, his campaign put up another one and installed a hidden camera to keep watch.
Early Tuesday morning, at 2:52 a.m., Phaup’s video shows a man wearing a hoodie walk up and start cutting zip ties holding a sign to two metal stakes.
After the sign is cut down, the man in the video then stomps down the stakes.
"I'm kind of sad. I'm kind of sad anybody feels the need to do something like this,” Phaup said. “There's so many more important things to do.”
WFAA showed the video to Judge Metzger on Wednesday, asking if he was responsible.
“It doesn't look like… I can't tell to be honest,” Metzger began.
When pressed that he would know if he did it, Metzger said: “I haven't knocked it down. I have taken signs down prior that were placed illegally.”
Metzger said his wife supports one of Phaup's opponents, Jonathan Boos. But the judge himself said he has not taken sides in the race to replace state Rep. Cindy Burkett, who is now campaigning for state Senate.
Phaup said he was surprised Metzger would destroy a campaign sign.
“I think he's a good friend,” Metzger responded.
But the judge denied that it might be considered a petty move.
“Not at all, actually,” he said. "I was told not to have any signs on the property."
Metzger, who said he regularly helps take care of the lot, did not clarify who told him that. Phaup's campaign said it got signed permission from the property owner and paid $200 to put it there, sharing the agreement stating so.
Metzger said he’s been a little spooked himself lately after he said he chased off someone who was parked nearby about 10 days ago. Metzger said he even reported that incident to the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department.
Phaup, a victim of vandalism, said he's considering filing a report with deputies, as well.