“I’m outraged by it. This is gutter politics. This is dirty politics,” Sarantou said at a press conference. “It has no place in a campaign and I want this to stop.”
“It’s terrible. I don’t know whether he did it or not,” said Copeland. “But to let it get to that point, the lying—that’s the main thing. To tell a lie like that, it’s sad.”
Sarantou stated he had received the postcard in the mail himself and immediately sought to find out who was behind the black-and-white postcard that contains no political disclaimer, no address, and no organization or affiliation as required by election law.
“This postcard did not come from anyone with my campaign for county recorder. That includes the Lucas County Republican Party leadership, who I immediately questioned about this postcard and like me have no idea of the origin,” Sarantou said.
The postcard reads, in part: “Phil Copeland Lied...He doesn't even have a GED. He hasn't even graduated from high school but he wants to be Lucas County Recorder?” The card then encourages the recipient to call local media outlets about the claim. The GOP councilman stated he’s greatly disturbed by what he called “an October surprise.”
“Democrats, Independents, and Republicans all know that I am a person of integrity and this post card stunt is not the way I campaign,” Sarantou said in a prepared statement.
“Therefore, I am asking the unidentified person, individuals, or organization behind this post card to stop this action now. The last thing the voting public wants now is more mudslinging by candidates vying for any office.”
The two city councilmen are vying to replace Democrat Jeanine Perry as county recorder, because she is not seeking re-election. Both men are barred by term limits from running for council again next year. Sarantou, 60, is a longtime private financial advisor, while Copeland, 67, is the business manager for the Laborers Local #500 union.
Copeland, though, doesn’t buy Sarantou’s claim, alleging his opponent has been “bringing stuff up,” such as his lack of attendance at city council meetings.
This is not the first time Sarantou has unwittingly found himself mired in political controversy. During a race for Lucas County commissioner two years ago, Sarantou and eventual winner Carol Contrada, a Democrat, went to court over how provisional ballots were counted.
Sarantou originally thought he had won the election, then lost, when the provisional ballots were added. He sued the board of elections, but after weeks of legal maneuvering, dropped the court issue after deciding it would serve no productive purpose to continue.