City manager candidates Catsavis and Dawson debate source of anti-gay campaign message

A post endorsing a candidate for the Fort Smith board of directors containing a derogatory statement about the LGBTQ community has reached many via text messages and social media, but the candidate says she is not the author and does not support the message.

The message that began circulating on Tuesday, October 18, was for Robyn Dawson’s re-election campaign as Chief Executive 5, which she has held since 2019. Dawson takes on challenger Christina Catsavis. Dawson and Catsavis faced each other and Carl Nevin in a primary election on August 9, in which no candidate received more than 50% of the vote. Catsavis received 960 of the 2,131 votes cast. Dawson garnered 680 votes and Carl Nevin, a 67-year-old hard-working small business owner who also ran for the job, received 562 votes, according to unofficial results from the Sebastian County Clerk.

The message texted to many people and then posted on social media extolled Dawson’s qualities for fiscal responsibility, transparency and economic growth, but added a photo of opponent Catsavis at a party. birthday party held earlier this summer with the caption, “Christina is right there in front left with her hubby at the gay birthday party at Storm Nolan’s.” The message ended with: “At a party for GAY PEOPLE!?! The Fort Smith government is in trouble no matter what happens in the next election. Guess we all have to bail out and move to Greenwood to raise our families and live.

Dawson said the message did not come from her. She said she sent a message to 100 of her contacts that read: “I’m going to send you a text that I ask you to copy and paste and send to as many of your contacts as possible. It would be great if you could send it to 50 or more. Then if they can send it to their contacts, that would be even better. Feel free to modify the wording if you wish. The important thing is that we release it as soon as early voting begins on October 24. I don’t need to tell you how important it is that we get the votes. Thank you very much for your continued support. The text to be sent (will come) after this one.

Dawson then sent text stating that the sender was a volunteer for Dawson’s campaign, when the next election would be, when and where early voting would take place, and Dawson’s orientation and background.

“I guess my mistake is that I told them they could change the wording. I should have said to only send what I wrote,” Dawson said.

About the added language and the photo, Dawson said it wasn’t in her post, she didn’t write it and she did and didn’t support it being sent. with his statements.

“I actually contacted the person who supposedly sent it and told him that I didn’t ask for it to be written or sent and that I didn’t appreciate it. I even told him that I I was sorry he was a supporter,” Dawson said, adding that the person who allegedly sent the message was not a member of his campaign committee and did not work for his campaign.

A Facebook post by Brandon Weeks on his personal page says the comment and photo were added by Bill Vines. It adds a photo of the text with Bill Vines listed as the sender and states that Vines has confirmed the photos.

“I hope voters will rise above this. May they look at my voting record and see what I have done for the community and what I stand for. This election should be based on my record” , Dawson said.

She said she would never make derogatory remarks about a minority group, whether they are a minority because of their race, gender or any other factor.

“I support the rights of every human being. Every human being has been granted rights. These are the same rights for everyone, whether they are members of a minority group or not. And every person deserves to have those rights honored and respected,” Dawson said.

Catsavis said she believed the message came from Dawson and her campaign. She said she went to Vines on Thursday morning and he showed her on his phone where the message had been texted to her from Dawson’s phone number. She took a picture of the phone showing the message.

“I am horrified. I am at a loss for words,” Catsavis said. “I didn’t want to believe it was her, but it’s on her phone with her phone number.”

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