Opponent accuses Houston council member of assaulting her

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- Candidate for Houston City Council Herlinda Garcia claims incumbent District I Councilman Robert Gallegos physically assaulted her while she was campaigning.

The alleged incident is reported to have happened outside the Houston Community College polling station on the 6800 block of Rustic Street on the city's south side on Monday evening.

Garcia claims she and Gallegos were both outside the polling station on Monday around 7pm talking to voters. She claims that Gallegos approached her and insulted her, although she would not specify what he said.

"He came back behind me and hit me on my back, and pushed me so hard that for about an hour I felt something on my left side," Garcia said during a press conference Wednesday.

As she wiped away tears, Garcia explained to reporters that she is an elderly woman who is now a "classic example" of abuse; and, because of that, it is her responsibility "to speak for every woman in the city of Houston."

Gallegos declined to be interviewed. His office issued the following statement:

"Herlinda Garcia is running a desperate, single-issue campaign. She's lied to the public about the city's anti-discrimination ordinance - claiming it will allow male sex offenders to prowl women's restrooms to attack young girls - so I'm not entirely surprised that she's fabricated a bizarre lie about me. I'm disturbed that Garcia, an elementary school principal responsible for the care and development of hundreds of kids, would base her campaign on lies and manipulation. She continues to set a poor example for our community."

Supporters of Gallegos, who attended the press conference, also claim Ms. Garcia's allegations are untrue.

"In the east end of Houston, politics has always been a contact sport, but this is outrageous. It just goes against everything I know about Robert Gallegos.I don't believe he would do that and neither should voters. This is shameful on her (Garcia's) part. She is losing in the election and now she's grasping at straws," said Gallegos supporter Carlos Calbillo.

Garcia and Gallegos have been embroiled in a series of jabs and snipes this election, primarily over Proposition 1, Houston's Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO). If passed, the local law would make it illegal to discriminate against anyone based on race, color, ethnicity, national origin, sex, age, familial status, marital status, pregnancy, genetic information, disability, sexual orientation, religion, gender identity, or military status. Gallegos supports the measure.
Garcia does not.

"I want him to stop bullying me," Garcia repeatedly said Wednesday.

Ironically, if Garcia's allegations are true, HERO would be on her side, providing an extra layer of security against discrimination based on her age and gender.

Garcia claims she has witnesses to the alleged incident; however, she would not name them. She also told reporters that she did not have photo or video evidence to support her claims.

Police confirm that Garcia did file a police report. However, per department policy, they would not say if the accused (Gallegos) was named in it. So far, police say no charges have been filed.
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