Yakima City Council candidate Kenton Gartrell is accusing Councilwoman Dulce Gutierrez and others of racism and “political terrorism.”
Gartrell made the statements in several Facebook posts over the past few days as election results began to show his opponent, Eliana Macias, closing the gap in the District 1 race.
On election night, Gartrell was ahead with 60% of votes, or 213 votes to 142. But that changed as mail-in ballots were tallied. He led by only four votes Friday.
Macias had a 26-vote lead Wednesday and is the apparent winner.
As the votes were counted, Gartrell accused Gutierrez, Macias supporters and former City Council candidate Berenice Ponce — who was eliminated in the primary — of racial bigotry, name-calling, producing a fake voters’ guide, hateful rhetoric and political terrorism.
Gartrell said he’s not worried about a backlash and that he can back up his allegations.
“They opened the door,” he said. “They don’t get a get-out-of-jail-free pass.”
In one post, he calls Gutierrez a bigot.
“This city has been ran by a bigot, a spiteful, hate-filled woman for four years whose grossly negligent behavior, knowledge and speech has attacked foreigners/immigrants as much as she has attacked her own residents for their beliefs or birth,” he wrote in a Tuesday post.
Macias couldn’t be reached for comment on Wednesday.
Gutierrez, who did not seek reelection in District 1, said Gartrell’s comments don’t deserve attention.
“I think if I could encapsulate my entire response, it’s typical juvenile behavior coming from him and I’m not surprised,” she said.
Gartrell accused a Macias campaign worker of circulating a fake voters’ guide saying he voted for President Donald Trump.
He also alleges that Macias campaigners — including Gutierrez — described him as a racist.
Gartrell said the tactics amount to political terrorism.
“Using fear in a political manner to justify the means to make a result,” Gartrell said. “Dulce and everyone listed there used it on me.”
Gutierrez said his allegations are unfounded.
“He was never present when I was door-knocking,” she said. “I don’t think he can find one person to corroborate what he’s saying.”
She said her campaign heard bad things about Gartrell’s efforts as well, including that he was aggressively pressing residents on their doorsteps to support him.
“I’m not really entertaining the words of someone who has been belligerent,” Gutierrez said. “It’s hard for me to dignify his accusations with any response. People say outlandish things when they are hurting and losing. He didn’t say those things when he was winning.”
This isn’t the first time Gartrell has gained public attention outside his campaign efforts. On the night of the primary election, he was accused of flipping off Macias’ supporters at Brews & Cues, a downtown bar.
Gartrell admitted to flipping off the group, but said he was provoked by their negative comments toward him. The bar’s owner said Gartrell was asked to leave.