North Texas Daily

Campaign flier raises eyebrows, locals get heated before election

Campaign flier raises eyebrows, locals get heated before election

Campaign flier raises eyebrows, locals get heated before election
April 28
02:46 2016

Tiffany Ditto | Staff Writer

@TiffanyDitto

It wouldn’t be an election without drama, and a recent campaign mailer caused tempers to flare.  The local controversy includes wrongful hugging, hate mail and accusations against people running for Denton City Council.

Citizens for Local Governance, a political action committee, sent a mailer to Denton residents asserting there is a “curtain” hiding those who power local politics. The flier read that an international climate action group called Rising Tide is using its local chapter, Blackland Prairie Rising Tide, to run candidates sympathetic to its cause for city council. The flier accuses the group of being behind the recall election of Joey Hawkins from District 4.

“What I have gathered is that the flier has stirred up people on both sides,” Place 5 city council member Dalton Gregory said.  “The discussion of the flier isn’t important. It’s done more to generate heat rather than light.”

Blackland Prairie Rising Tide said in a Facebook post it has not endorsed or inserted any candidates into the election.

“Hell, we haven’t even been promoting Will Wooten, who is a member from this group,” the post read. “If we were using BPRT as a platform to run ‘multiple’ candidates for city council, it sure does look like we’ve dropped the ball.”

What stirred people the most was an address for the PAC at the bottom of the flier. The address happened to be the home address of former city council member Pete Kamp.

Kamp maintains the PAC isn’t hers, but does admit to being a member. She sent a mass email April 17 responding to local outrage over the flier. In the email, Kamp accused District 3 council member Kathleen Wazny of selecting candidates to run against the incumbents, her fellow council members.

Kamp said Sara Bagheri, who is running against Greg Johnson for Place 6, and Mike Cheves, who is running against Gregory for Place 5, were both selected by Wazny to help get rid of Denton Municipal Electric company.

“It’s election season and there is always going to be some mudslinging,” Wazny said. “The election will be whatever it will be. I am a believer in free speech and people have a right to free speech and to criticize.”

Neither Bagheri nor Kamp could be reached for comment.

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Courtesy | Denton Matter Facebook Group

Cheves said Kamp’s claims are completely false. He said he had a disagreement with Gregory after Cheves told Gregory he was accountable for the children who were hit by cars in front of Ryan High School because the area lacked sidewalks.

“[Gregory] told me if I thought that, then I should find someone better to run against him,” Cheves said. “Several months later I am here, and that decision was between myself and God alone.”

The PAC also alleged the FBI is watching the group, but later recanted on its website. 

Kamp’s email caused more high school-like controversy when it accused Wazny and Keely Briggs, council member from District 2, of hugging a list of individuals at meetings. This spurred a “hug gate” scandal that gained traction on Facebook as a running joke.

Kamp later sent a second email, asking residents for donations to fund the PAC.

UNT philosophy professor Adam Briggle said the flier is an attempt to distract from the real issues.

“This whole flier thing is a debacle,” Briggle said. “I think it’s a total distraction and it’s really unfortunate those behind the flier went to such great lengths to drag people through the mud. It’s a distraction from the issues.”

Briggle said the most important issue in Denton, and what everyone should be focusing on, is where Denton and its residents will be getting their electricity from in the coming years.

“Denton is going to double in size,” Briggle said. “Whether or not [Bagheri] is an anarchist sympathizer doesn’t matter.”

Cheves agrees with Briggle and said the emails Kamp sent out, and the mailer, were just an attempt by Kamp to keep some mind share in Denton.

“I think that’s just [Kamp] trying to find relevance in her life,” Cheves said. “Our government is not following the best practices, we don’t have an internal auditor. If I win, I promise a lot of great articles; because, we’re going to look at everything and it’s going to be newsworthy.”

Featured Image: Courtesy | Denton Matter Facebook Group

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