Intimidation During The 2019 Election
According to neighborhood sources and a filed affidavit, election campaign organizers in Firethorne, have now taken to intimidating and discrediting others, besides Mary Shkut — namely, Councilman Robert Epps, and now, candidate for Mayor, Mr. Chris Smith, etc. The following are the most disturbing incidents in recent history.
Councilman, Mr. Robert Epps
During the last municipal election, Mr. Epps had his tires slashed and anonymous letters written which accused him of unlawfully taking a Village contract. In a reprehensible incident, his fenced-in horse pasture was also littered with broken glass from high-end liquor bottles. Mr. Epps explains how the shards were found:
"While performing traffic duty, a deputy sheriff officer saw shiny objects in the field. They went over the fence and found large broken shards of glass. Fortunately, this was discovered before the horses cut their mouths or their legs on the glass."
Allies of the Firethorne Election Campaign organizers are not above harassing people with calls to authorities either. Ms. Graham, who works for Mr. Ken Orndorff and Raley-Miller, called State authorities to lodge a complaint against Mr. Epps soon after Epps cast a vote to appoint Mary Shkut to the Council. Neither Graham nor Orndorff live in the Village of Marvin. Therefore, the timing of the events (and the sudden interest in Epps' land) appears to have been submitted in retaliation for Councilman Epps' Council vote. (See the documents.)
Certain incidents caught on camera also raise concerns about the lengths to which Firethorne Campaign organizers will go to cause Mr. Epps and his family discomfort. (MVN will refrain from posting the video(s) to protect Mr. Epps' right to share videos with authorities.)
Mr. Christopher Smith - The Disheartening Events of the 2019 Election
Mr. Chris Smith, candidate for Mayor made a concerted effort to attend most Marvin Council meetings between 2018 and 2019. He also made a point of getting to know current Council members and members of the Marvin Planning Board. He was then appointed to the Marvin Planning Board in January, 2019.
Once signing up to run for Mayor, Mr. Smith spent time getting to know the council candidates on the ballot, Jamie Lien and Bob Marcolese. Over time, Smith grew uncomfortable with their motivations for seeking office. He was often being asked to surrender independent thought to a group agenda. This did not sit well with him.
For one, the candidates seemed obsessed with Ms. Shkut and an intent to keep her out of Marvin government. Mr. Chris Smith had met with Ms. Shkut in order to find out for himself whether Firethorne campaign organizer allegations about Shkut were true. He could never substantiate the things Firethorne Campaign organizers said and Ms. Shkut almost always provided sound evidence to the contrary. He consistently found her to be a good citizen and a hard-working leader - in and outside of Council meetings.
The council candidates began excluding Chris Smith from campaign meetings with residents. They also began suggesting there might be another mayoral candidate who intended to run against him as a 'write-in'. According to sources, members of the Firethorne Country Club heard similar rumors about a write-in for Mayor.
On Nov.1, Mr. Chris Smith garnered overt disapproval from Firethorne Campaign organizers when he responded to a Marvin candidate questionnaire; a biennial Marvin candidate survey by Mr. Giebel. Firethorne Campaign Organizers had told Mr. Smith not to respond to newspaper or citizen questionnaires. When he did respond, it sparked the ire of Councilwoman Vandenberg, her husband Michael Vandenberg and the ire of candidates Jamie Lien and Bob Marcolese.
Mr. Smith began reflecting on the hostile phone calls he received and the candidates' obsession with Ms. Shkut. So he met with her once again. Mr. Smith had independently assessed that Shkut's record of public service and her experience were assets to the Village and he asked if she would consider accepting write-in votes for Council. Mary Shkut agreed. Mr. Smith publicly endorsed Mary Shkut as a write-in candidate for Marvin Council and the endorsement was posted on Ms. Shkut's website. This spurred even more overt threats; particularly from Mayor Pollino.
Mr. Chris Smith writes about these threats in an election protest filed with the Union County Board of Elections. The excerpts below have been slightly abridged for brevity. (Read Chris Smith's Marvin Election Protest)
Mr. Chris Smith Election Protest (Slightly Abridged Excerpt)
"During this call, Mayor Pollino told me I should rescind my support for Ms. Shkut. He told me several times in this conversation, that as a result of her candidacy and my support for her, along with my own uncontested candidacy for Mayor, he was being urged by others to initiate his own write-in candidacy for Mayor. He said he may have no choice to do so depending on what I choose to do...
He asked me several times what Ms. Shkut “had on me” or had offered me; suggesting I was either being bribed or blackmailed by her in exchange for my support.
During this conversation he said, “You need to give it up, because…maybe there was a woman…maybe you were at the club and you were both drinking and flirting…or maybe you were alone in a room with a her.”
He intimidated and frightened both me and my wife by clearly implying he could manufacture a scandal involving another woman or would initiate rumors to that effect.
He firmly implied he could make life difficult for me simply by uttering hypothetical situations to others, like those he had just intimated in our conversation."
The treatment Mr. Smith describes is disturbing. When Firethorne Election Campaign organizers learned Mr. Chris Smith had publicly supported Mary Shkut's write-in candidacy, he was told he would 'pay' for daring to break ranks with the Firethorne group. We speculate perhaps Mr. Smith was ruining the Firethorne Election Campaign organizer's carefully crafted campaign message that candidates to which council candidates had consistently referred.
(1) Mary Shkut is evil and the cause of all problems in the Village, and
2) Council candidates on the ballot have pure motives and are impartial
On November 4, the night before the election, a special Planning Board meeting had been scheduled. It was typical for Mr. Chris Smith, Mr. Michael Lavelle, and Mr. John Jones to attend that meeting. However, it was wholly atypical for Mr. Joe Pollino, Mr. Jamie Lien and Mr. Bob Marcolese to show up. However, they did show up and it was troubling to say the least. What follows is an abridged excerpt from Mr. Smith's election protest. (Read Chris Smith Marvin Election Protest)
Mr. Chris Smith Election Protest (Slightly Abridged Excerpt)
"On the evening of November 4th, the Planning Board meeting started at 6:30 p.m…As I entered the boardroom, I noticed Messrs. Marcolese and Lein seated in the public seating area. I was concerned because it was atypical for either of them to attend Planning Board meetings… Moreover, I was concerned because I had assumed Mr. Lavelle’s [earlier] request to speak with me was an invitation to participate in a one-on-one conversation. I was now fearful the conversation would, instead, be a three-on-one confrontation.
About 36 minutes after my arrival Mayor Pollino walked into the boardroom. I was alarmed by this. I glanced at Mr. Lavelle and he retorted, “You started it.” I felt sure now the meeting Lavelle requested was going to be a coordinated altercation.
When the meeting concluded I followed Messrs. Lavelle and Lein down the wheelchair ramp and the two of them immediately started yelling at me, shouting accusations and unsettling epithets. Mr. Marcolese and Mayor Pollino followed behind me. I became concerned for my safety because of the level of anger they were displaying.
The Village Hall has very little exterior lighting and it was very dark. As I attempted to make my way to my car between a parked minivan and the landscaping, Mr. Lein stopped abruptly and turned toward me. This caused me to stop and to seek an alternative path. However, the three others were there, and I found myself trapped between them, the flagpole, and a minivan. All four men started yelling at me.
Mr. Lein began pacing aggressively from behind me to almost directly in front of me. His distance from me ranged between arm’s length to as close as a one foot away. Mayor Pollino situated himself about two feet to my left and slightly to my rear. Mr. Lavelle stood in front of me, a bit to my left, and about two feet away. Mr. Marcolese was in front of me about 4 feet away and slightly behind Mr. Lavelle. Directly behind me was the flagpole and its landscaping.
I felt extremely concerned and afraid because they had positioned themselves to prevent my escape and my ability to negotiate safe space. I was concerned if I were to be struck, I might fall into the flagpole and the steel edging surrounding it. I realized it would be difficult for me to withdraw and flee without touching one or more of them. I feared that would provide them the opportunity to strike me back and claim I had “started it.” I wondered where I might fall if I were struck and knocked unconscious; thinking of the steel edging and the stone pavers.
…Mr. Lavelle started yelling at me and I interrupted him by saying “I can see that you’re upset”. He cut me off shouting “Don’t tell me how I feel!”. Mr. Lein started yelling at me, standing directly in front of me, putting his face as close as a foot from my face. He was screaming things like “You’re a piece of shit”, “You have no morals”, “You’re a liar” and more. Mr. Marcolese was shouting that I had betrayed them, and Mayor Pollino was shouting epithets at me too. Mr. Lein yelled that I could not be a Disabled Veteran because a real Disabled Veteran wouldn’t do what I did. I told them to speak to me using “indoor voices”. Mr. Lavelle yelled “We’re outdoors!”. My thoughts were racing. I became lightheaded and nauseated.
As Mr. Lein was pacing, I thought I might find a gap between us to get away, but he quickly turned and stormed back at me. I said, “Oh no, there’s more”. Mr. Lein became wildly enraged, got right up into my face and began screaming at me. His shouting was accompanied by his finger pointed in my face over, only inches from my face. He began to rant franticly about his recently deceased wife, buried across the street. I knew that if I said anything at all, he would strike me. I knew I was in grave danger.
Suddenly, Mr. Lein stormed off and as I observed him walking around and behind me, I turned to my left to see Mr. Marcolese leaving as well. I quickly departed toward my car which was parked some ways down the gravel driveway. Messrs. Lavelle and Ammanamanchi and Mayor Pollino followed me. I paused for a moment to catch my breath. I needed a moment to recover from faintness and nausea so I could drive.
While standing there, the Mayor and Mr. Lavelle stated my candidacy was over…"
Mayoral candidate, Mr. Chris Smith endured overt aggression in a dark, rural gravel parking lot, under an American flag, at the hands of grown men: Mayor Pollino, Jamie Lien, Bob Marcolese, Michael Lavelle, and a Village employee. This appears to be an unfathomable affront to constitutional freedom of thought and free elections.
The atypical visit to the Planning Board meeting; by our Mayor, and these council candidates was essentially an ambush; set-up to intimidate and bully Chris Smith for exercising his choice, in what should be a free and fair Marvin election.
We, at MVN, do what we can to champion Good Government. With this in mind, we are proud of Mr. Chris Smith for seeking lawful recourse and standing up to this conduct. We are glad to know he has lodged a protest for the Marvin 2019 Election. We hope all families in support of good government will provide Mr. Smith with the support he deserves.
Those of us who believe in free elections and good government should ensure we attend the Union County Board of Election Hearing scheduled for December 2nd, at 10:00 a.m. and request a new, unencumbered Marvin election.
UNION COUNTY BOARD OF ELECTIONS MEETING
This Monday, December 2, 2019 - 10:00 a.m.
Board of Commissioner’s Board Room
1st Floor, Union County Government Center
500 North Main Street, Monroe, NC 28112
VILLAGE OF MARVIN
ELECTION PROTEST HEARING
The subject of this special meeting is a protest hearing for the
Mayor and Council contests for the Village of Marvin Election.
The Board may take such actions related to these matters
as the Board deems appropriate, and as per State law provided.
The Board and protester may call witnesses to provide testimony.
Subpoenas may be issued to ensure key witnesses attend.