August 19, 2011
A gym owner who says he's the first openly homosexual candidate to run for Charlottesville City Council says he's been receiving anti-gay messages.
James Halfaday told the Daily Progress one of his fliers was returned Aug. 7 with a disparaging message and his face crossed out. He said he sought legal advice but was told the defaced flier didn't constitute a threat, so there was little he could do.
Halfaday said the flier is the latest in a string of attacks, including a July 31 e-mail accusing him of "promoting perversion" and an insulting Facebook message in May. The Facebook message was configured to make it look like it was sent by Kathy Galvin, one of Halfaday's six opponents in Saturday's Democratic primary, but both campaigns and party officials say Galvin had nothing to do with it.
A letter to Halfaday and Galvin from Charlottesville Democratic Committee co-chairs Tom Vandever and Jim Nix says the message was likely generated "by an unknown third party" with the goal of damaging the campaigns of both candidates. Nix and Vandever urged both campaigns to keep the incident quiet to lessen its impact.
Halfaday said he originally wanted to keep the hate mails quiet because he assumed they would die down and he didn't want to start an "uproar" in the gay and lesbian community. He said he chose to come forward now because he's run a successful campaign despite the negatives, adding that he's not going to be intimidated.
Jonathan Stevens, a Galvin campaign adviser, said he thought the Facebook issue was a "dead letter" a long time ago.
"It was put aside as one of those nasty little things that can happen on the Internet," Stevens said.
Nix said that, to his knowledge, Halfaday is indeed the first openly gay person to run for City Council.
"This is 2011, it's not 1970 or something like that," Nix said. ".Sadly, we do still live in an age where some people just don't accept that and do mean things."