CONCORD -- Two campaign mailers slamming City Council candidates have hit mailboxes in recent weeks, turning what has been a quiet and civil race in which all candidates signed a fair campaign pledge into one of mudslinging.
"This is ugly," is how candidate Ed Birsan described it Monday.
Birsan is the target of the latest mailer, which was paid for by the Concord Police Association and arrived in Concord mailboxes last week. It charges that Birsan distorted the truth about his name and business on the ballot to "persuade voters to vote for him."
The anti-Birsan mailer came on the heels of a piece of campaign literature from the Democratic Party of Contra Costa, which promoted Birsan and Harmesh Kumar and sent voters "warnings" about Dan Helix and Tim McGallian, who are endorsed by the Concord Police Association.
The union mailer said Birsan lists himself as a Concord business owner on the ballot but that his business is registered at a San Francisco address with the California Secretary of State. And it accuses Birsan of not using his full name, Edi Eralesi Birsan, on the ballot.
"Some politicians will say anything to get elected," the mailer reads.
On Monday, Birsan said he has used the name since age 5 and legally changed it at 18 to honor his stepfather for raising him. Birsan has also posted his Concord business license on local Internet blogs and said the San Francisco address belongs to the person who handles the company's billings.
A police union representative did not return a call for comment Monday.
The Birsan mailer is an independent expenditure, meaning it was paid for by the police union and not on behalf of any candidate.
Helix and McGallian said Monday they had no prior knowledge of the mailer.
"It's just not my style of campaigning," Helix said. "There are positive reasons why I am running, and I don't like any negativity."
"Hopefully people can understand and separate between that and my campaign," McGallian said. "I've done nothing but try to run a clean, honest campaign from the get-go."
In August, the 11 candidates running for two seats on Nov. 6 signed a campaign pledge to, among other things, "not engage in, or permit, defamatory attacks on the character of my opponents."
Earlier in October, a newspaper-style mailer called the "Concord Democratic News" offered a comparison chart of the 11 candidates and "warnings" about Helix and McGallian. The warnings about Helix included that the registered Republican "falsely appears as a Democrat on phony slate cards," his campaign is financed by developers and special interests, and that he refused to enter his age on candidate statements of qualifications. It lists his age at 84.
"It was just tasteless," candidate Alany Helmantoler said.
David DeBolt covers Concord and Clayton. Contact him at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/daviddebolt.