Va. can­di­date says she was at­tacked by irate res­i­dent

The Washington Post Sunday - - METRO - BY LYNH BUI

Af­ter knock­ing on thou­sands of doors through the course of five po­lit­i­cal cam­paigns, the long­time Fair­fax County School Board mem­ber and as­pir­ing county su­per­vi­sor has her pitch down pat: “Hi, I’m Kathy Smith. I’m run­ning for the Board of Su­per­vi­sors in Novem­ber.”

But be­fore she could give the woman do­ing yard­work on Misty Creek Lane the rest of her spiel Satur­day af­ter­noon, Smith said, the woman at­tacked her.

“She came af­ter me,” Smith said. “She tore the clip­board out of my hands and started shov­ing me. And then she grabbed the sun­glasses off my face.”

The rea­son for the woman’s al­leged out­burst?

Smith said the woman was up­set over a school bound­ary vote the board mem­ber cast— in 2008.

The con­tro­ver­sial change that was de­signed to ease crowd­ing swapped the neigh­bor­hood’s as­signed high school from Chan­tilly to Oak­ton. Clearly, Smith said, the move left some par­ents more irate than oth­ers.

“She ended up with a kid in each of the high schools, and she didn’t like that,” Smith said.

Smith, who has served on the School Board since 2002, is run­ning for the seat of Michael R. Frey (R), who is re­tir­ing as su­per­vi­sor in the Sully Dis­trict in western Fair­fax. Smith, the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, will face off in Novem­ber against Repub­li­can John Gue­vara.

Fair­fax County po­lice con­firmed that of­fi­cers were called to the 12600 block of Misty Creek Lane shortly af­ter 1 p.m., and in an e-mail to county lead­ers, po­lice said that crim­i­nal war­rants had been is­sued charg­ing a sus­pect with as­sault and interfering with a 911 call. Po­lice de­clined to name the sus­pect be­fore ar­rest­ing her, but an ar­rest was ex­pected Satur­day evening.

Smith said she had been knock­ing on doors of the Colo­nial-style homes in the Cen­tury Oaks neigh­bor­hood for about an hour and a half Satur­day be­fore the al­leged at­tack.

The episode hap­pened quickly, she said. Walk­ing up the drive­way, she be­gan in­tro­duc­ing her­self from afar when, she said, the woman re­al­ized who Smith was and ran to­ward her, scream­ing.

Cam­paign cards flew out of Smith’s hands and flut­tered into the street. She said she tried to grab onto a tree for bal­ance. At one point, Smith said, as she tried to pull out her cell­phone to call po­lice, the woman took it from her hands and flung it across the yard.

“I was yelling for help for what felt like an eter­nity,” Smith said.

Then, some­one driv­ing by in­ter­rupted the scene, Smith said. That was when she said she was able to break away to her car and call po­lice.

In the po­lice e-mail, Capt. Ed O’Car­roll, di­rec­tor of the depart­ment’s public in­for­ma­tion of­fice, also de­scribed the in­ci­dent. “For an un­known rea­son, the home­owner be­came an­gry and blamed the can­di­date for var­i­ous neigh­bor­hood is­sues,” O’Car­roll wrote. “As the can­di­date turned to leave, she was pushed from be­hind which caused her to fall to the ground. As the can­di­date at­tempted to call 911, the clip­board she was hold­ing was knocked from her hand and her phone grabbed and thrown into the yard. The can­di­date re­trieved her cell phone, fled and called 911. The can­di­date was treated by res­cue for non life-threat­en­ing in­juries at the scene.”

In all of her years cam­paign­ing, Smith said, can­vass­ing has al­ways been a pain­less process. She might worry about an an­gry dog now and then. Or an irate voter will call her out over pol­icy dis­agree­ments.

“They usu­ally say, ‘I know who you are. I’m not vot­ing for you,’ ” Smith said. “But I’ve never been as­saulted.”

The woman Smith named as her al­leged at­tacker did not re­turn sev­eral calls seek­ing com­ment. Smith said she asked po­lice to press charges.

Smith said po­lice called an am­bu­lance af­ter the in­ci­dent, which left her shaken up with tight­ness in her chest. Her shoul­ders are a lit­tle sore, but over­all, she said, she is fine and un­scathed.

De­spite the in­ci­dent, Smith is un­de­terred. She said she will keep can­vass­ing and plans to head back to the same street Sun­day to fin­ish meet­ing res­i­dents in the neigh­bor­hood.

“My ten­dency is to have faith in peo­ple,” she said. But “I will think about tak­ing some­one to fin­ish this neigh­bor­hood. That might be a good idea.”

“They usu­ally say, ‘I know who you are. I’m not vot­ing for you.’ But I’ve never been

as­saulted.” Kathy Smith, Fair­fax County School Board mem­ber and Demo­cratic can­di­date for the Fair­fax County

Board of Su­per­vi­sors

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