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SYRACUSE -- Allegations of dirty politics have surfaced in the race for mayor in Syracuse. At the heart of it: religion and a mysterious phone call.
Police are investigating a call in which a woman apparently pretended to be one of the candidates and made an offensive comment. They don't know who made the call, but the caller identified herself as candidate Jamie Nagle.
Nagle, who works for the state of Utah as a human resource manager, is running for mayor of Syracuse. She says she was beyond surprised when Theresa Sheffield, who is running for city council, told her about a conversation she'd had with a man while out campaigning door-to-door.
"He said, ‘I want to know who you're voting for, for mayor." And I says, ‘Well, I'm voting for Jamie Nagel.' And he says, ‘Get off my property! Get out of here! I'm not voting for you. Here's your brochure back. I want nothing to do with you!' And I said, ‘Why?' And he said, ‘She called me a white Mormon male bigot,'" Sheffield explained.
Sheffield told Nagle; Nagle filed a police report. Police interviewed the man and believe someone pretending to be Nagle made the call and provoked an argument.
"I have no idea who was doing this, really," said Syracuse Police Chief Brian Wallace. "Obviously, It would benefit the other candidates. It's kind of smearing Jamie Nagle."
Wallace continued, "He said that the lady, whoever called him, got irritated and said, ‘You're just a male Mormon bigot like that Craig Jenkins.'"
Nagle says she has no proof but wonders if the campaign of rival candidate Craig Jenkins is behind it, but the Jenkins campaign denies it. Jenkins' campaign manager Betsy Thurgood says she's not sure of other campaigns might be involved either.
"I don't know, because I know most of the people that are running, and there's nobody that I know that's running that would do anything like that," Thurgood said.
Both Jenkins and Nagle are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"I've been asked by several people how I feel about Mormons because they've heard from that campaign that I hate them," Nagle said. "And that couldn't be further from the truth. I'm Mormon. I'm active in my church. I hold church callings."
If police can figure out who is behind the call, it could lead to criminal charges. Anyone with any information is asked to call Syracuse police at 801-825-4400.
Syracuse voters will head to the polls to vote in the primary on Tuesday.