Danielle Egnew, who ran an unsuccessful race for Billings mayor last year, is recycling her leftover campaign signs as a response to the swastikas and other hate messages left recently at a church and middle school in Billings.
“All it took,” she said Sunday afternoon, “is a T-square and a carpet knife.”
Egnew, who finished fourth in the Sept. 17, 2017 mayoral primary election with almost 8.5 percent of the vote, said she’s been delivering signs with her campaign slogan, “Lead with Love,” minus the “vote for me” message at the bottom of each sign. She estimates she had 150 signs remaining from the campaign and that she’ll “probably be down to 25 by the time it’s all said and done.”
“My daughter goes to Lewis & Clark Middle School,” she said. “When the school ended up with all the stupidity there, it made me so sad. Good Lord! I want my daughter to know we can put love out there.”
Egnew, a pastor and psychic, posted a video via social media suggesting community members use love to help thwart the recent expressions of hatred and intolerance, “because love is a strong motivator.”
“It’s not some hippy-dippy thing,” she said of her campaign. “It’s the courage to stand together in the face of hatred.
“This isn’t who we are,” she said, adding that the community has for decades “worked hard to eradicate hate.”
But as a member of the LGBTQ community, “my soul is saddened by the silence from our civic leadership,” she said.
“Billings just needs a hug right now,” she said of her motivation for re-distributing portions of her campaign signs, which she said can be hung in people’s windows or – for those who are willing and able to take a hammer to the wooden stake – pounded into the frozen ground.
She said her outreach has produced some of the results she was looking for.
“People have told me we need to be the change we want for our community and that they love these positive words,” she said. “Someone from Florida said they were glad there is a voice calling for unity and love.”
“It just dawned on me (Saturday night, when she created the video) that we need to give people a touchstone to remember our sense of community,” she said. “I’ve spent my Sunday cutting out the mayor part and driving around in the snow, giving (the signs) away to the people who have asked for them.”
“Lead with Love” signs are also available at Vintage Apothecary, 2818 Third Ave. North.