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Dirty Politics in Trustees Race Surprising Candidates

Updated: Friday, November 1 2013, 10:14 PM EDT
ANDERSON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (Rich Jaffe) -- As the campaign season starts to wind down a group of candidates in an eastern suburb says they'll be happy to see the election over.

The candidates are running for two trustee seats in Anderson Township and the race has gotten so dirty even veteran politicos say they've never seen it this bad.  Local 12's Rich Jaffe has the story from Anderson.

We first told you about this rather dirty little race a couple of weeks ago when Rich Jaffe did a story on the democratic candidate who told us he believed his family had been threatened on two different occasions.

Now the Republican/Tea party candidates say they too are surprised by how dirty things have gotten out here.  Some of the most common election signs you'll see in Anderson township are for Josh Gerth and Andrew Pappas.

Gerth says he's worked on other campaigns but this one is surprising him, "Signs get stolen, people send nasty emails and make threatening calls with stupid stuff just because you're out in public. The level it's gone to in this case and maybe it's because I'm the guy running.  People writing anonymous letters to my work trying to get me fired, threatening businesses, it has gone beyond whatever I thought it would."

Two weeks ago we told you about how Democratic candidate John Piehowicz believes that comments from two different people were threats directed at his family.

Now the Republican party has passed around this email from the President of the Anderson Newtown Democratic Club.  It was sent to the owner of a small strip mall and told him that if he didn't allow Piehowicz signs on the property she would have, "To ask the 300 Anderson residents on her email list to kindly boycott any business located in a plaza or shopping center owned by him."

Andrew Pappas says, "It's the first time I've ever run for office and I will say this, it's not a whole lot of fun."

Pappas owns a small dry cleaning business and says he's concerned about the email because it challenges the property owners freedom of speech.

"That's what bothers me because I'm a small business too and when you start saying to a business you can't take a stance or you don't have a right to say who you support where do you stop? What about a property owner? What about in your neighborhood? You don't have a right to support who you want to support?" 

Long time trustee, Russ Jackson, who's not running says the boycott threat, "Has introduced a whole new era of dirty politics here in Anderson."

As to the other threats Josh Gerth says, "I don't know who it is, I just think there's mean spirited people in our world and unfortunately they come out of the woodwork during these elections." 

All three candidates we've interviewed say they now understand why nice, normal, people hesitate to go into politics.  But they also vow the threats have not dissuaded them at all, they just look forward to Tuesday and being done with all this.

Local 12 talked with one of the current trustees, Kevin O'brien, who's running for re-election.  His schedule couldn't accommodate an interview but he said he wasn't particularly aware of any dirty politics in the race.

Local 12 also saw for the first time a campaign sign for a candidate named Scott Doyle.  He's also on the ballot.

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