Reporting Natalia Zea
MIAMI (CBS4) – Miami City Commissioner Marc Sarnoff is facing four political opponents in his fight for re-election.
Recently he faced a personal opponent too: Self-admitted propane-huffer, Coconut Grove resident Reid Welch, who Sarnoff accuses of stalking him.
“He has been Baker Acted three times- he is a person that’s not stable,” Sarnoff told CBS4′s Natalia Zea.
Police responded to Sarnoff’s home Saturday night after a violent scuffle involving Welch.
It started when Welch spray painted a neighbor’s Sarnoff campaign sign, which he says was hung illegally. Sarnoff says Welch had a box cutter and spray paint in his hand when he threatened his elderly neighbor.
“I was approaching him, he started approaching an elderly woman and I thought he was going to do harm to her, and I thought he was going to do harm to me and he started to spray paint in my face,” said Sarnoff. “I defended myself and I defended the woman and I took him down.”
Welch tells it differently.
“Suddenly I was knocked down from behind- tackled, and he’s yelling at me, no he’s growling at me and said ‘Reid I’m gonna kill you, I’m gonna kill you’,” Welch told Zea.
Sarnoff denies making any threats. Police did not arrest anyone and the State Attorney’s Office has just begun its investigation.
Incident has some of Sarnoff’s opponents speaking out including Michelle Niemeyer.
“I think it’s outrageous- we have a public official who granted was being harassed by someone and that can be very aggravating, but our public officials need to be able to hold their temper,” said Niemeyer.
Welch, is a Neimeyer supporter, though she says he is not part of her campaign.
Sarnoff responded to Niemeyer’s statement saying, “It’s sad that Michelle Neimeyer would try to make political gains out of an obvious violent person who is a drug addict.”
In the end, could this incident affect residents’ decisions about Sarnoff in this election?
Voter Jeff Sibley thinks so.
“Somebody may question his judgment possibly. I question the action, just the fact that it happened,” said Sibley.
Coconut Grove resident, “D” told Zea he sympathizes with Sarnoff.
“If you’ve got somebody messing with you, you need to handle your business,” said “D”. “It’s just that simple. He’s got my vote just for winning.”