Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick called a letter mayoral candidate Dennis Dillon sent to Republican Westminster residents homophobic and an example of dog whistling.
Dillon’s opponent, Mona Becker, the subject of part of the letter, agreed with the mayor. Dillon says he is being slandered.
Residents can vote for Becker or Dillon for mayor in Westminster’s election on May 11.
Dominick, who is not running for reelection, shared a picture of the letter on his public Facebook page. It showed “Dillon for Mayor” at the top and starts off “Dear Loyal Republican.” It introduces Dillon in the first paragraph and explains why he is proud to be a Republican in the second. The third paragraph states that Republicans receiving the letter have two choices to consider for mayor.
“The alternative is a candidate who, along with her wife, is co-founder of an organization called STEMivism whose symbol is an upraised green fist, and whose agenda mirrors that of the socialists in Congress like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bernie Sanders, and the Leftist crop of Democrats in Annapolis,” the letter described Becker.
Dominick said on Facebook that the letter mentions Becker’s marital status with “the only goal being to dog whistle homophobes” and misrepresents Becker’s nonprofit, which focuses on sharing STEM-related accomplishments by women.
He said in an interview that referring to Becker’s organization as socialism shows Dillon does not know what socialism is. He added that since he’s known Becker, she has never said anything anti-capitalist. He also said on Facebook that Dillon’s name was misspelled in the letter.
Also agreeing with Dominick on Facebook were Westminster Council President Greg Pecoraro and City Council candidate Dan Hoff.
Dillon said in a Facebook post that he is being slandered by the mayor and that mentioning Becker’s wife in the letter is no different than Dillon saying he has a wife. He said later in an interview that the sentence mentioning Becker’s wife was from Becker’s profile on a website called 500 Queer Scientists. He said he doesn’t care about Becker’s marital status but wanted conservative Republicans to know she has green-socialist ideas.
“I find that you are gaslighting people who do not know me and my family in any way trust me you do not in regards to this topic,” his Facebook post stated, adding that he is now receiving threats. “[If] Something happens to me or my family for your incredulous statements, I ask all my friends to make sure you are held accountable for your actions.”
Dillon said in an email that his goal for the letter was to get his message directly to like-minded members of his party. He referenced when the city misprinted his information to residents earlier this week.
“Mailing letters or campaign literature to voters is nothing new in elections. In fact, prior to me sending out my letter, my opponent mailed a post card to voters and there was [nothing] newsworthy about that,” he said.
He added that the mayor is entitled to his opinion and noted that Dominick endorsed his opponent before the letter was sent out. “Of course he has a bias[ed] opinion of me,” he added. “Those who know me are fully aware of my character and my acceptance of all people no matter what.”
Becker questioned the relevancy of some of what Dillon referenced in the letter.
“Being mayor isn’t about who you are married to, it’s about who has the municipal and local experience to lead the city,” Becker said.
She said in an interview when she saw the letter, it was clear it was an attempt to garner votes from people who did not want to see her in office because of her sexual orientation.
“It’s dog whistling,” she said. “I think he’s calling out the homophobes. I think that’s who the letter was intended for.”
She noted that this is the first time Dillon felt the need to bring up her marital status.
Westminster’s election is not the only municipal election happening in Carroll; three were contested in the past week, three others are scheduled for May 11 and still another for May 18. However, no other election has approached the level of contentiousness seen in the Westminster mayoral race.
Earlier this week, the city of Westminster mailed a newsletter to residents with information about each candidate ahead of the May 11 election. But Dillon’s bio and why he is running was missing and replaced with the information for another candidate. Dominick took responsibility, called it a misprint and said he apologized to Dillon, but Dillon said it looked “malicious.”
Dillon was also criticized by candidates and residents for receiving outside partisan support for his campaign from Maryland’s Republican Party.
Becker said she hasn’t seen an election like this in her 20 years as a resident, and she doesn’t know why those of the Republican Central Committee are threatened by her presence in Westminster.
“They haven’t really inserted themselves in other municipal elections in the way they are in Westminster,” she said.
Dillon said it’s clear Becker, her supporters and most of the City Council were insulted someone ran against Becker.
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“Now that I have knocked on hundreds of doors and have talked to hundreds and hundreds of voters, I now know that it seems that a lot of people in Westminster think the city is ignoring the nuts and bolts of running a town and are focused on pet projects or passing activist-like ordinances such as banning plastic bags,” Dillon said.