"This is not the way you go about doing business," Woody says, adding that he may press charges against Mitchell and others after the election is over.
Mitchell, meanwhile, angrily denies having anything do with Woody's missing signs about 60 or the alleged memo that Woody says he received from "employees" within the sheriff's department.
After reviewing a copy of the memo, Mitchell says it appears to be something concocted by Woody's campaign. "He can act innocent," she says, but "somebody affiliated with him definitely did it."
The memo, dated May 22, isn't on official letterhead, she points out.
"For somebody to come up with a memo, especially a memo with no signature, and act like this is an accidental leak I think that speaks to integrity," Mitchell says. "I may have my issues, but this has never been one of them. I don't think I have to stoop this low to win this election."
The controversy represents the latest twist in an election where some say Mitchell is vulnerable. Her management of the jail was widely criticized after inmate Gregory G. Robinson was beaten to death by another inmate who broke out of his cell on felony row May 30. It was determined that the accused inmate escaped because of faulty locks.
For his part, Woody says he made a conscious decision not to "politicize" the memo or his missing signs by contacting local news media or filing charges with police. (Style contacted Woody about the missing signs after learning about them from a source who asked not to be named.)
Reports of stolen political signs are nothing new, says City Registrar J. Kirk Showalter. "This happens every election," she says, adding that she doesn't have any authority to investigate such matters. City ordinance allows anyone to remove political signs that are placed on public property such as public medians but taking signs on private property is illegal.
Mitchell says she, too, has had signs stolen. Running for her fourth term as sheriff, Mitchell says this is the first time she has ever been accused of stealing her opponent's signs.
"I am appalled. I am upset and really angry," says Mitchell, who adds that she's considering revoking Woody's special-arrest powers, over which she says she has authority. "I hate dirty politics," Mitchell says. Scott Bass
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