California mayor calls City Council candidate a ‘gang candidate’ in flyers; apologizes

Mailer from Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris implies Johnathon Ervin would share information with gangs.

By Evan Bleier

After he circulated a “hit mailer” that dubbed City Council hopeful Johnathon Ervin a “gang candidate,” Lancaster, Calif., Mayor R. Rex Parris has issued a partial apology.

Parris put out the negative campaign flyer after Ervin allegedly led an “anti-law enforcement protest” during a Trayvon Martin solidarity rally in 2012.


The allegation was “one of the most hurtful comments that I’ve ever heard uttered in the public square,” Johnathon Ervin told CBS Los Angeles.

“If he is on the council, he will know about ongoing operations to fight the gangs” the Parris campaign mailer read. The flyer seemingly suggests that Ervin would supply gangs with information.

“That’s exactly how I interpret it, that’s how the public interprets it, this is why the public is outraged,” Ervin said. “I’m an Iraqi Freedom veteran, and I’ve been trusted with some of our country’s most sensitive secrets. And to say that I would put public safety at risk, and give information to the criminals, is an insult to me.”

The flyer’s message was criticized as being racist, prompting Mayor Parris to issue an apology.

"Racism has no place in local governance. Ervin calling me a racist is not unusual. He once accused me of being a racist because my administrative assistant is African American. But here, the ‘race card is played to divert attention from the mailer’s true message...


[Ervin] opposed stopping Section 8 abuse, he opposed stopping gangs from wearing their colors on our streets, he opposed removing 2,000 pit bulls from our streets, and he opposed our right to pray at council meetings. This is why I labeled him the "gang candidate...

Ervin sent out mailers of his own, to Republican high propensity voters proudly showing him standing next to Republican leaders proclaiming that he’s pro-law-enforcement -- a stance that is belied by his past behavior. His mail to Republicans shows him shooting a handgun claiming he supports the right of people to carry guns. Yet, he is a Democrat and supports his party’s platform opposing people’s right to carry concealed weapons…

I’ll conclude by apologizing for any perceived slight or insult to our citizens. The mailer’s message might not be eloquent, but it remains an important message. I stand by it. I urge every voter in Lancaster to ignore the racial epithets and political posturing, and look to the deeper truth.”

The election will be held April 8.

[CBS Los Angeles] [Antelope Valley Times]

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