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Flier stirs controversy in Freeport race

Mayor incumbent Andrew Hardwick, left, answers questions at

Mayor incumbent Andrew Hardwick, left, answers questions at a public debate in the Freeport library against trustee Robert Kennedy, right. (March 14, 2013) Credit: Johnny Milano

The campaigns for both candidates in Freeport's mayoral race Sunday condemned a flier urging voters to "say no to bringing back racist building inspectors" by voting against the election of challenger Robert Kennedy.

Neil Curtis, a volunteer for Mayor Andrew Hardwick's campaign, denied it was behind the flier, which purported to be from the "Hardwick team."

"It's totally not our piece," said Curtis, who added the Hardwick campaign plans to investigate the fliers' origins. "I think the other side may have put that piece out. We don't know what's going on with that."

Kennedy campaign officials said the poster was a ploy to tamp down his Latino support and blamed Hardwick's campaign.

The election will be held Tuesday. The poster urges voters to re-elect Hardwick, Trustee Carmen Pineyro and Village Judge Stephen Drummond.

Curtis said the campaign learned of the flier Saturday when a Hardwick supporter brought one to the attention of campaign officials.

"We're trying to nip it in the bud as we speak," Curtis said. "The emotions run deep when it comes to the candidates. . . . It's like someone just threw something together and just threw it out. I think it's an effort from them to get more attention."

Don Miller, a campaign spokesman for Kennedy and the Unity Home Rule slate, said it was misleading because it gave the impression Hardwick and Pineyro were allied even though Pineyro is running on Kennedy's slate.

"It is very unfortunate it has come to this," he said.

The flier -- which asks, "Remember the days of Freeport's anti-Hispanic racist building inspectors?" -- attempts to revive allegations of racism in the building department made by some Latino residents who felt they were unfairly targeted by home inspectors, Miller said.

Two other anonymous fliers -- both attacking alleged statements made by Hardwick -- were tucked in doorways around South Freeport on Sunday.

A flier distributed last week by the Hardwick campaign boasting that President Barack Obama supported him was sharply criticized by his opponents. Democratic National Committee spokesman Patrick Burgwinkle said last week, "Hardwick has not been endorsed by the president."

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