Responding to criticism about "vicious" comments made at a candidate forum, mayoral hopeful Patty Zimmerman today said her remarks must have been misunderstood by the audience.
Zimmerman triggered a sharp, negative reaction Wednesday when she told the Juneau Downtown Business Association other mayoral candidates had a role in a recent traffic accident.
"What the audience heard is probably not what I said," Zimmerman said.
A 9-year-old boy was injured Sunday night when a truck and a car collided at an intersection on Mendenhall Loop Road. The collision sent the truck rolling onto the boy, who was standing at the roadside. He is hospitalized in Seattle.
"I was not accusing Sally (Smith) or Jamie (Parsons)," Zimmerman told the Empire. "What I said was there were no trees in the median. There's a reason cities have done that for 2,000 years."
Smith, Parsons and others disagreed with Zimmerman's assessment of her own comments.
"(Zimmerman) suggested that Jamie and I were culpable in the truck accident that injured the boy," said Smith "She seemed to have the impression that one or both of us, by virtue of our having held office before, that we could have done something to prevent it. The grandfather of the boy was there. He said it had nothing to do with maintenance of the road and everything to do with the drivers."
The allegation was "ugly," Parsons said this morning. "(Zimmerman) did tie us into that, and she should not be hammering on Sally."
The street in question is actually a Department of Transportation project, Parsons said.
"Worse, she (Zimmerman) said the boy had been killed, which upset the grandfather, who was in the audience."
Zimmerman made a lot of statements that she couldn't really back up, said Carola Thompson, who attended the presentation.
"When she said the kid had died, the family in the audience were totally insulted," Thompson said.
"She was getting vicious, talking loudly and really, really angry," Thompson said. "The accusation was outrageous."
Zimmerman explained this morning that she thought the meeting had gone well, "except when Rosalee Walker stood up and screamed at me."
Toward the end of the meeting, Zimmerman alleged that the Alaska Mental Health Trust Fund was receiving money from the Alaska Permanent Fund, Walker, a former Juneau Assembly member, said Wednesday. "I worked too many years on the mental health trust fund - with the Alaska Alliance for the Mentally Ill - to let that go."
The mental health trust portfolio is managed by permanent fund managers.
"And I told the audience: Never the twain shall meet," Walker said. "Patty is getting campaign nerves."
Mark Farmer, who pulled out of the mayor's race at midday today, said he didn't mind taking Smith or Parsons to task, and vice versa, "but Patty often takes it to the point of getting mad as hell and she's not gonna take it any more."
"She was yelling and getting red in the face and saying she'd lived in this town for six years and all of the candidates were stealing from her," Farmer said. "She even called Sally an old, mean-spirited woman."
"It was good that Rosalee Walker set her straight," Parsons said. "But the whole thing was really embarrassing."