MOUNTLAKE TERRACE – A spat between two city council candidates has come to the attention of the Mountlake Terrace City Council.
Gordon Brown, a Terrace resident, told Council members at their Monday meeting that Eric Teegarden, a Council candidate, called an opponent’s signs “fascist” while door-belling at Brown’s house on July 31.
Teegarden is also chair of the city’s Community Policing Advisory Board and his opponent, Michelle Angrick, is a member of the same board.
The Council can remove a board member “for cause,” said interim city manager Jerry Osterman. Conduct unbecoming of a board or commission member can be considered as such cause, according to some Council members.
After some discussion, the Council put the issue on the Sept. 6 Council meeting agenda.
“I am surprised that the City Council would take valuable time to address what I feel is a distraction to the real issues facing the city,” said Teegarden, who didn’t attend Monday’s meeting. “If that is their request, I will resign.”
Angrick said the decision is up to the Council and whether they feel Teegarden violated the city’s code of conduct.
“I have nothing personal against Mr. Teegarden,” she said. “I wish this campaign had not gotten to this point. I didn’t think this was what local politics was about.”
Teegarden issued a public apology to Angrick, who is his opponent, on Tuesday. He also believes it is important to exercise free speech, he said.
“I regret my comment,” Teegarden said. “On Aug. 2, I apologized to Michelle Angrick directly for saying that I thought her signs looked fascist. At no time did I make any related comments about Michelle or her campaign.”
Angrick said she appreciates the apology.
“It is unfortunate that he decided to run his campaign in that manner,” Angrick said. “It was disrespectful to me, my family and to every citizen in Mountlake Terrace.”
Both candidates said they want to put aside the dispute and focus on the issues.
Teegarden said the two candidates “got off on the wrong foot” in May, when someone canceled Angrick’s sign order.
“My comment about my opponent’s signs was in reaction to her unfounded accusation of committing sabotage and fraud by canceling her sign order,” Teegarden said. “My opponent has falsely accused me of fraud and sabotage and made subsequent slanderous comments. I have received no apology from her.”
Angrick said she isn’t clear about what slanderous remarks Teegarden is referring to.
“I think he is just trying to protect himself at this point,” Angrick said.
The door-belling incident also spawned a verbal confrontation between Teegarden and Angrick at the city’s National Night Out on Aug. 2. Both candidates admit they got upset, but disagree about who started it and who was the primary aggressor.
Mayor Jerry Smith, Councilwoman Michelle Robles and Police Chief Scott Smith are among those who witnessed the heated exchange, which related to the door-belling incident. The police chief appealed to both candidates to resolve their differences peacefully and remain civil at the time.
Angrick has also been the target of vandalism in recent weeks. She found men’s underwear hanging from the mirrors of her car earlier this month and campaign signs ripped from her fence.
Teegarden said he, too, has had campaign signs stolen from his property.
Monday night, Angrick discovered someone broke the driver’s side handle on her car while she was in the Council meeting. She filed a vandalism report with the Mountlake Terrace Police.
Teegarden said he wants this to be a “clean and issue-oriented election.”
“We should drop petty arguments and insults because these things can only continue to demoralize voters,” Teegarden said. “I am going to run a clean race regardless of what Michelle does.”
Angrick said she won’t let the dispute distract her from campaigning.
“From the beginning, I made a commitment to myself and to the citizens of Mountlake Terrace that I would campaign with high ethical standards and will not mud sling,” Angrick said. “I have stood by this and I will continue to stand by this regardless of the actions of my opponent.”