2009-11-12 / Front Page

Police called on election letter

Jamestown police are investigating an anonymous campaign flyer that was distributed last week just before the town’s Nov. 3 election.

The unsigned one-page letter, mailed during the weekend prior to the election, claimed that two candidates running for Town Council – Bob Sutton and Mike Smith – backed a plan to tax residents with wells and septic systems for debt on the town sewer bonds.

The letter urged residents not to vote for Sutton and Smith, two veterans of island politics.

Sutton, who served as Jamestown’s town administrator for 17 years, was running for re-election to the council. Smith had served on the Town Council a number of years ago and is currently a member of the Jamestown Planning Commission.

The two men were the only candidates defeated in their bids for council seats.

Sutton and Smith told the Press that they have filed complaints with the Jamestown police.

Island police are investigating whether the unsigned letter violated state election law. State statute requires that all political advertising, posters and circulars be signed by the individuals responsible.

“I have no interest in overturning the election,” Sutton said Tuesday. “This type of campaign tactic has been going on for several elections and it’s time to put a stop to it. This shouldn’t be a part of the community election process.”

Smith told the Press that he also did not want the election overturned. But, Smith said, last-minute campaign smears are in direct opposition to his belief that local elections are all about fair and open debate.

Officer Derek Carlino of the Jamestown Police Department is leading the investigation. He would only confirm that a complaint has been filed and said he wouldn’t comment further because it is an open investigation.

When asked about the Attorney General’s role, Officer Carlino said that if a charge is made, it would be a misdemeanor. He does not believe the state Attorney General will become involved in the case.

Any charges would be prosecuted by the town solicitor, Officer Carlino said.

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