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Westminster mayoral candidate questions whether city newsletter error was ‘malicious’

For the first time, the city of Westminster mailed a newsletter to residents providing information about its upcoming municipal election and each candidate. However, the information that ran under one mayoral candidate’s name was actually about one of the council candidates.

It was an error the city’s mayor took responsibility for and one that was corrected. But Dennis Dillon, the mayoral candidate whose information was missing, said it looked malicious.

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Voters in Westminster will have two options for mayor, Dillon or Mona Becker, on election day, May 11, and three options for the two open seats for the city council, Morgan Barkley-Mathers, incumbent Tony Chiavacci and Dan Hoff.

Barkley-Mathers’ information about who she is and why she is running was listed twice in the mailing from the city — under Dillon’s name as well as under her own. Dillon said in an interview that he did not receive a direct apology from the city on the matter.

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“Looks malicious,” he said about the newsletter error. “Is it? I don’t know. The way the council and everyone is going about this, it really does look like something.”

Westminster Mayor Joe Dominick, Common Council President Greg Pecoraro and Councilmember Kevin Dayhoff recently wrote letters to the Times endorsing Becker, Dillon’s opponent.

Dominick said the newsletter error was not malicious, but just a misprint. He said everything was updated, fixed and a new version was mailed out.

The mayor said later that he spoke to Dillon on the phone for 35 minutes on Monday expressing remorse and apologizing. He said in a message an official apology was posted on the Westminster’s website Tuesday afternoon.

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“The Mayor and Common Council deeply regret that the version delivered to residents by mail inadvertently included a misprint,” the city’s website stated. “We apologize to the candidates, and to all our residents who may have been temporarily inconvenienced.”

“When the mistake was discovered yesterday, our focus and first priority was correcting the issue and making sure we could get the corrected brochure distributed before the election,” Dominick said.

Dillon acknowledged the phone call he had with the mayor but said he did not receive an apology. He also questioned how people could have missed the misprint and noted the reprint of the candidate newsletter is on the taxpayer’s dime. Dillon added he talked to three constituents who said if they received another newsletter, they would throw it away after believing they already received it.

Pecoraro said in an interview the error was unfortunate but an honest mistake.

“I think we moved things quickly and all we can do is show how much we regret what happened,” he said. “And apologize to the candidates and residents who were inconvenienced.”

Dillon said he received a threat from the city’s attorney after messaging the city administrator about the newsletter error.

Emails provided by Dillon and the mayor showed Dillon wrote, “Wow I am not [too] happy that under my name is not my info and I want to know how the city is going to fix this? Please call me I have copied my legal on this as well.”

The city’s attorney, Elissa Levan, responded to Dillon, writing that the city acknowledged the error, will correct it and post the revised versions on its website, Facebook page and in The Times.

In the next paragraph, she wrote that signs belonging to the city posted on city property stating “Just vote” were removed and replaced by Dillon’s campaign signs, which are not permitted on city property.

“They will be removed by City staff if they are not collected by the campaign today,” her email stated. “Further, the removal of the City’s signs violates Sections 106-11 and 106-12 of the City Code. Those violations are municipal infractions, punishable by a fine of $400 for each offense, under Section 1-18 of the Code.”

Dillon said in an interview he considered the email to be a threat. But Dominick disagreed and added the city’s attorney was brought in after Dillon mentioned his attorney was cc’d on the first email.

“It all looks like you’re all in cahoots to come after me,” Dillon said in an interview, referring to city personnel.

Dillon said his banner on Pennsylvania Avenue has been taken down by others and someone bent his campaign signs in his front yard. He also said people have yelled at him and his son when driving by his house.

Dillon, who found himself in a bit of controversy last week when his enlisting help from the state’s Republican Party for the nonpartisan election drew complaints from some, said he wants to move forward but does not know why people are attacking him.

“It’s pretty sad that a small town election has gotten to be what it is,” Dillon said.

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