Candidates send letters

Published 9:14 pm Wednesday, November 3, 2010

A couple of last-minute letters sent out by City Council candidates possibly swayed some voters toward the eventual winners.

Jeffrey Gardy and Mike Duman sent letters last week making accusations against their opponents, J.B. Varney and Caroline Martin, respectively. Varney and Martin each lost by fewer than 200 votes.

Duman says he knows the letter he sent swayed some voters because they told him at the polls they weren’t planning on voting for him until they saw it.

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“I’d say it was a factor,” Duman said Wednesday. Martin lost the race by 173 votes, according to preliminary results.

His letter, sent to Chuckatuck borough voters who cast a ballot in the last Republican primary, was intended to combat the growing notion that he is a Democrat, he said.

“I’m just a bipartisan, independent, conservative businessman,” he said. However, several people told him and his family members they wouldn’t vote for him because he is a Democrat, he said.

Martin was endorsed by the Suffolk Republican Party. Sample ballots handed out at Chuckatuck polling places listed the party ticket as Congressman Randy Forbes, Martin and School Board candidate Linda Bouchard. Forbes and Bouchard also won election.

“They told me I needed to do something to neutralize that (perception),” Duman said. “I realized there was some substance to what was going on.”

Duman acknowledged he did not compose the letter, but that he did read it before it was sent.

“I wasn’t crazy about it,” he said. “It’s not what I’d prefer to do, because I’m not a politician.”

A separate letter sent to Holy Neck voters from Gardy’s campaign accused Varney of supporting a toll on U.S. Route 58 and calling for Forbes’ defeat. Varney lost by 128 votes.

“At the Suffolk Chamber of Commerce debate, Mr. Varney called for the defeat of our local Republican Congressman Randy Forbes,” the letter reads. It also says Varney, during a taping of “Roundtable Talk” with Andy Damiani, advocated a toll on Route 58 from Suffolk towards Holland to pay for road improvements.

Varney says he never said any such thing and that comments he made on related subjects were taken far out of context. He proposed building an extension on the Route 58 bypass for truckers to use and putting a toll on that stretch of road, so the people who are using it will be the ones paying for it, he said Wednesday.

Varney also said he believes Gardy interpreted a local anti-incumbent sentiment Varney expressed at the Chamber debate to also apply to Forbes’ office.