Lake Elmo mayor accused of stealing campaign literature - KMSP-TV

Lake Elmo councilwoman accuses mayor of stealing campaign literature

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There are just 22 days until the election and candidates in races across the country are making their final push to get votes, but a Lake Elmo woman is crying foul after she says the mayor removed a piece of campaign literature she left while door-knocking.

"I was visibly upset," said Lake Elmo City Councilwoman Anne Smith. "I've worked with the mayor for eight years. He was my friend, and to have him take my literature hurts."

Both Smith and Dean Johnston are up for election, but they're not running against each other. Johnston is seeking his third term as mayor, and Smith hopes to keep her spot on the City Council.

Smith claims that their campaigns collided on Saturday while canvassing a neighborhood after the mother of three accused Johnston of taking a brochure she had just left at a home.

"He rubber-banded his literature on the door handle. Then, he pulled -- because there was only a little corner sticking out -- he pulled my literature out of the door and didn't hide it. Simply walked over his scooter, lifted his seat and put it in his seat," she said.

Johnston calls the accusations "baseless." When FOX 9 News spoke with him by phone, he admitted to removing the brochure because he was curious to read it, but he says it never left the property.

Smith, however, said he only put it back after she confronted him and threatened to call police.

"We work hard. We work hard going to these doors to show people we care about our community and to have that one little bit of say," Smith said. "If they're not there, that's all they get -- is my little brochure."

The city administrator told FOX 9 News this campaign kerfuffle could be considered par for the course with candidates who are passionate about their city.

"Nothing surprises me in a political campaign," Dean Zuleger said. "Like I said, in Lake Elmo, folks are passionate. We're kind of known for a lot of intensity in local government."

Smith and Johnston have bumped heads on issues in the past, but while Johnston said he'd rather not be included in this story, he wanted to make it clear that this campaign kerfuffle was not about partisan politics.

Yet, some say they think the campaign literature lift could be because Smith is running on a slate with one of Johnston's opponents.

The Washington County Sheriff's Office did fill out a report, but no one has been cited so far. Officials say they are still looking into it.

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