A marketing manager running for an open seat on the Richmond City Council has dropped out of the race two weeks before the election because of "totally baseless" accusations that have hounded him, he said.
Chris Tallerico sent an e-mail to supporters early Wednesday morning telling them that he was dropping out of the race after being "vilified" by the Richmond Green Party, the Richmond Progressive Alliance and members of Mayor Gayle McLaughlin's staff.
Tallerico said one person sent an e-mail citywide condemning him for where his children attend school.
"They're running around town telling everyone I'm a racist, calling me a fascist, even contacting my neighbors," Tallerico said. "They've drug my family into this, my children. They've totally ruined my name around town."
Marilyn Langlois, a member of both organizations and a community advisor for McLaughlin said that neither campaign has issued a statement that would vilify or engage in name-calling of a candidate.
"We, of course, can't control what individuals say," Langlois said, but she added that both political organizations encourage positive messages, not mud-slinging.
McLaughlin has made personal endorsements but respects the right of everyone to campaign, Langlois said. Disagreements should be expected in politics and there has been no organized campaign to vilify or smear any candidate, she said.
A mailer sent out by the Richmond Police Officers Association sparked debate at Tuesday's City Council meeting, as many residents thought the mailer was racist. The mailer supported Tallerico and one other candidate, but he decried the mailing immediately.
"I didn't like the mailer, and said from day one that it was gutter politics," Tallerico said. "I didn't help create it or distribute it."
During the meeting, in which the City Council denounced the mailer, Tallerico said people were calling him a racist from the back of the room.
The police officer association supports almost everyone on the council, and Tallerico believes he was singled out because he is new and naive to professional politics.
"I'm just an average guy, not a professional politician," Tallerico said. "I was just running in hopes that I could make a change in this city."