By Shirin Rajaee

TURLOCK (CBS13) — Turlock police are investigating a hate crime against the city’s mayor, Gary Soiseth after his campaign signs were a target of vandalism.

Soiseth is running for re-election and several of his campaign signs were vandalized with a homophobic slur.

He said he woke up to texts earlier this week after a few of his campaign signs were tagged with disturbing graffiti.

“At first I wanted to think it was just a childish prank or that it was an isolated (incident),” Soiseth said. “I do believe it was very specific and it was hurtful.”

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The word written on the sign was a homophobic slur that his supporters quickly removed.

“There are remnants of some orange spray paint on there, but it’s amazing people saw it and within 30 minutes, saw it and put it back up,” he said.

Soiseth is running for re-election and said the negative rhetoric and tone from his challengers has played a role in this hate crime.

“That tone has allowed this environment, that I think some people feel it’s ok to write these things,” he said.

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Since the incident, one of the candidates running against him, Brad Bates, took to the Mayor’s Facebook page saying he had nothing to do with the vandalism.

He wrote in part, “no one involved in any way with my campaign has any involvement or awareness of this.”

Earlier this year, Mayor Soiseth disclosed he is gay, and said he received overwhelming support and acceptance.

“I’m very proud of who I am. I’m a gay Christian mayor,” Soiseth said. “This gives me more resolve, I’m ready to sprint to the finish line, and am looking forward to spending four more years as mayor.”

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen hate crimes in Turlock, just recently a Sikh man was attacked while putting up campaign signs. The words “go back to your country were tagged on his truck.

Soiseth said he won’t allow this attack to set him back.

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