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New Charge of Racism

Republican Michael Meunier calls opponent's new mailing racist.

With only a little more than two weeks left until the Nov. 8 election, accusations of racism and false information are becoming key attributes in the race for the 39th District seat.

Republican candidate Michael Meunier's campaign issued a press release Monday claiming that Del. Vivian Watts' (D-39) most recent campaign mailing, a three-panel document with a brief biography and listing of public service experience and legislative accomplishments, is another racist document.

"We've never put out in the media when I got my citizenship," said Meunier, who immigrated to the United States from Egypt in 1990. "It doesn't make me any less of an American that I became a citizen in 1995. I don't see how it's relevant."

The mailer comes a few weeks after Watts sent out a flyer with phrase "One of Our Own" across the top, accompanied by photographs of Watts with what appeared to be Caucasian residents. Meunier claimed that the flyer was designed to draw attention to the fact that he is an immigrant and not a native-born resident.

Watts said the most recent flyer was designed to draw attention to where the candidates differ on the issues of property taxes, illegal immigration and transportation funding.

"It's all about what you've done coming into this community," Watts said Tuesday. "That's what this election is all about. We need to stay with the issues."

Watts also mentioned that a candidate in another race, Del. Dave Albo (R-42), uses a phrase similar to the one Meunier claimed was racist. On many Albo publications, the phrase "One of Us, Working for Us" is printed in blue lettering. The same phrase is also found on road signs.

Meunier said the two statements cannot be compared.

"Dave Albo isn't running against someone who is a naturalized citizen," said Meunier. "He's running against someone who looks like him. You can't compare the two situations at all. With Dave Albo's race, Greg Werkheiser (D) comes from a similar past and wouldn't be offended by his statement because he's not implying there's anything different between them."

Watts, he said, is trying to "build her campaign on the fact that I am different. She's worried about something."