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Salt Lake City Council Chairman Willie Stoler says if he catches the people who have been tearing down his re-election lawn signs, "I'll go for the jugular."

Stoler has a tough re-election race against restaurant owner Don Hale in their Sugar House district. Hale ran ahead of Stoler 57-36 percent in the Oct. 3 primary election.Lawn signs always disappear as election day approaches, but Stoler says his 300 signs have dwindled to just a few. "It's not just kids taking them down, as some say. If it were, we'd have the worst juvenile problem in America."

Stoler is a retired Salt Lake City police major and knows the criminal law.

"If I catch anyone taking down my signs, I'm going to file a federal civil rights action against them. I've already consulted an attorney. I'm not going to mess around with the city's misdemeanor ordinance for this kind of action. We'll go for a felony count."

Stoler says tearing down campaign signs is a violation of First Amendment rights of free speech, and he'll use the federal courts and go for the tougher penalty.