A candidate for the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District has stepped aside from the May special district election after her opponent was subjected to harassing messages.
Kindwyn Hoge, a disabled stay-at-home mother, is asking voters to choose Veronica Russell, a development specialist and special events coordinator, for the recreation district’s board, since the deadline to officially withdraw from the ballot was in March. Hoge said she would step down from the position if she were to win Tuesday.
Russell said in an email that she had “received a piece of hateful/bullying mail at my home (referencing my running for a position on this board), and a couple of subsequent hateful messages from a supporter of hers that were not endorsed by Kindwyn.
“I prefer not to comment further on the content, however I did receive a very nice voicemail from Kindwyn letting me know that she was not responsible for the mail I received and that she is upset that someone who supports her could do something like that.”
Hoge, who describes herself as legally blind, said her campaign should have been “something special.”
“You want to make a positive contribution,” she said. “To me it’s not that important to be on any board — what they did to her, they did to me. I feel like they violated me as well.”
Russell said she chose to look at the incident as a teachable moment.
“It is this kind of behavior that I am working to protect kids from through my ‘bully-free zone’ work with Seaside Rotary’s Peace Builders committee,” Russell said. “In diffusing bullying, I have learned it’s best to give it no unnecessary attention, and instead focus on more positive and productive things.”
The Position 1 race between Russell and Hoge is the recreation district’s only contested campaign. Other candidates are running unopposed.