Walt Opaska, a candidate running for mayor of Glendale, says he was attacked after a Glendale Tea party debate last night in a Denny's parking lot.
Opaska says that, at about 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, as he was walking out of the restaurant near 51st Avenue and Thunderbird Road, someone told him there were about a dozen of his campaign signs in the back of a truck in the parking lot.
"I suspected that this person was removing my signs from roadside locations and so I took pictures of the person, his license plate and the signs in the back of his truck in order to provide documentation to law enforcement," Opaska says in a statement emailed to supporters. "At that point, the man confronted me, threatened to hit me, did land a punch to my back and held me against a car by the collar and by my jacket."
Opaska tells New Times that the man demanded that Opaska turn over his iPhone to him so he could delete the photos. He didn't want to give the man his phone, but as he was manhandling him, someone nearby offered to delete the photos for Opaska.
"He was grabbing me, and that was the only way I could get him to let go of me," Opaska says. "There was no way I was going to give him my phone, but yeah, someone else deleted the photos."
Opaska says he is trying to retrieve the deleted pictures from his phone.
Opaska believes that -- based on the signs that had been plucked from their various spots across the city and loaded in the back of the truck -- his alleged attacker is a supporter of State Representative Jerry Weiers, a fellow Republican and one of his opponents in the mayoral race.
Glendale police tell New Times they responded to the scene after a "report of an altercation involving a mayoral candidate and campaign signs."
"Patrol officers took the initial report and that will be forwarded to detectives for follow-up," says Glendale Police Officer Tracey Breeden, a police spokesman. "The investigation is ongoing and further investigation, including additional interviews, needs to take place. No arrests were made but there is the potential for charges."
Glendale Mayor Elaine Scruggs is not running for re-election.
More from Opaska's statement:
I was not seriously injured and I assisted the Glendale Police with their report on scene. Charges are being pressed. Emotions run high during elections. However, stealing property is never acceptable. Threats and violence are not acceptable.
Those of you who know me know that I don't go looking for a fight, but that I also stand up for what I believe in. I have worked really hard in this campaign. The signs that I have purchased are not my own, but are the result of that hard work and donations of many of you.
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