Accusations of dirty politics in San Jose involve video stake-outs, the husband of the a candidate and alleged assaults. Marianne Favro reports on one South Bay race that has turned ugly.
The husband of Councilwoman Rose Herrera filed a report with police alleging assault and battery in connection with a dispute with supporters of Herrera's election opponent Jimmy Nguyen over missing campaign signs in the hotly-contested race for City Council District 8.
Herrera's husband, Matt Wahlin, filed a report with the San Jose Police Department today, claiming that at about midnight he suffered cuts to his face and hand and a bruised knee after at least one person knocked him down, the Herrera campaign said in a prepared statement.
Wahlin said he saw two people, one who pointed a camera at him and another with a bright light who then left the scene, the statement said.
Herrera's campaign said before the alleged attack, Wahlin had been walking his dog and "came across Jimmy Nguyen campaign lawn signs placed on our property without permission."
"This had occurred several times over the past few nights. Matt removed the signs from our property and took them to a public garbage bin to dispose of them," Herrera's campaign said.
San Jose Police Officer Albert Morales confirmed that Wahlin had filed a misdemeanor assault and battery report this morning and that the matter is under investigation.
But in a news conference in the Evergreen neighborhood in eastern San Jose today, Nguyen supporters charged that Wahlin has been removing Nguyen's campaign signs from people's front lawns and other property, cutting them into thirds and throwing them in trash bins at night.
Nguyen's supporters released a video they said shows Wahlin taking Nguyen campaign signs to a trash container on Chemin de Riviere near Place de Louise and then confronting the camera, shouting an obscenity and saying that he had a knife
Dustin DeRollo, a political consultant with the firm Saggau-DeRollo who said he represents the Committee to Protect San Jose Neighborhoods, an independent group that wants Nguyen for council, said he himself took the video over two nights.
The first scene with Wahlin took place on Sunday night, and the one with the confrontation happened sometime shortly after midnight today, DeRollo said.
At about 11 p.m. Sunday, DeRollo said he saw Wahlin drive to the intersection of Murillo Avenue and Chemin de Riviere, park on Place de Louise and then throw out about five of the signs into a trashcan.
DeRollo said he was recently asked by Nguyen supporters to help find out why lawn signs were disappearing from homes in the Evergreen neighborhood where Herrera and Wahlin live.
"We were contacted by people in the community who were concerned about the signs," DeRollo said.
He said that there were "stolen lawn signs from the street that Councilwoman Herrera lives on -- that's unusual."
Tina Cortese, a dispatcher for the San Jose police who is backing Nguyen for council, said she lives across the street from Herrera on Marston Way and has been placing and replacing Nguyen signs in her yard since about Oct. 20.
"I've lost at least five signs," Cortese said. "The only thing I suspect is that it's someone supporting her."
A representative for Nguyen's campaign could not be reached for comment.