A mailer attacking Chattanooga City Council candidate Jerry Mitchell for a 13-year-old drunken driving charge in Florida has drawn Mitchell's ire and a disavowal from the two other candidates in the District 2 race.
"I made the mistake, I paid for it and I learned from it," Mitchell said Wednesday.
The mailer is being sent out by local watchdog group Little Chicago Watch. The mailer includes a mug shot from Mitchell's arrest and gives details of the DUI charge in Sarasota, Fla., while he was Chattanooga's Parks and Recreation director.
The mailer cites records saying Mitchell was combative with authorities. It also states that Mitchell's driver's license was suspended for six months and that he failed to notify former Mayor Jon Kinsey and the administration as required by city code.
Mitchell admitted Wednesday he did not tell Kinsey about the arrest and said he handled the matter by himself. He said he received probation and had to attend classes about drunken driving.
He said he does not recall being combative with police and maintained he passed a field sobriety test. He also denied that his license was suspended.
"I don't recall that at all," he said.
The two candidates in the nonpartisan race rallied around Mitchell.
Priscilla Simmons said she felt negativity should be kept out and the race should focus instead on each candidate's merits.
"I think it's unfortunate it's coming out at this time because it's a personal matter," she said. "I'm sure he has paid his dues with law enforcement."
Roger Tuder said he "did not like any of that crap."
"I'm not going to go down the road on any of those personal attacks," he said. "That doesn't do anything for the citizens of District 2."
The Chattanooga city election is March 5. Early voting is Feb. 13-28.
Cliff has worked for the Times Free Press for five years and covers Chattanooga city government. He previously covered Rhea County, as well as transportation and growth and development in Southeast Tennessee. A native of Maryville, Tenn., Cliff graduated in 2003 from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis on journalism. Before coming to Chattanooga, he was a crime reporter with Hernando Today, a supplement of The Tampa (Fla.) ...