TULARE, California (KSEE) — After sitting Tulare city councilman Carlton Jones admitted to removing a sign of his campaign opponent, he also brought up his opponent’s son’s recent allegations stemming from an undercover sexual predator sting on social media.
Steve Harrell is running against Jones and is the father of Chris Harrell, who recently was arrested in the Tulare County Sheriff’s Office operation To Catch a Predator. He’s been charged with felony meeting a minor for lewd purposes and felony contact with a minor for sexual offense.
Chris Harrell also resigned as Tulare’s public utilities board chair.
As of Wednesday, both Jones and Steve Harrell’s campaign signs are standing at Tulare’s Paige Truck Stop. But, last week, Steve Harrell was told Jones removed his sign. After Steve Harrell posted about the missing sign on his campaign’s Facebook page, Jones admitted to it on a comment on a separate public Facebook post, saying he got permission to do it at the request of the property manager.
In that post, he said, “They don’t want signs made by a predator in front of there (sic) business.” Along with several hashtage, including #PedophileHarrell, as well as a Spanish homophobic slur. It’s all in reference to Chris Harrell’s charges.
“I was a cop for 30-plus years, so things you say about me just kind of roll off my back. I don’t pay attention to them,” Steve Harrell said. “[When it’s about my family], it’s something else.”
Steve Harrell adds none of his son’s history should’ve come up since it was all just about campaign signs.
“His pending criminal case is something totally separate than my campaign for city council. It has no bearing on it whatsoever,” he said.
In other comments in that same public Facebook post, Steve Harrell snaps back at Jones. He suggests his son was lead to believe he was talking with a 19-year-old during the sting — despite the charges relating to minors.
Jones took issue with that, telling us in a texted statement, “I don’t hold Steve responsible for what his son did, however, Steve is responsible for how he’s handling the situation. Calling everyone liars except his son is not a good look.”
Steve Harrell believes this is all a ploy to distract voters. He plans to keep campaigning hard in these final weeks.
“My concentration is on running for a position on city council,” he said.
A manager and clerk at Paige Truck Stop said anyone is allowed to post their campaign signs on the property.
Steve Harrell said he won’t be filing a police report on this.
You can see the full texted statement from Jones below: