HOUSTON – The race for Galveston County Tax Assessor-Collector is heating up as candidate Jackie Peden is challenging 16-year incumbent, Cheryl Johnson.
On Friday, Johnson’s husband was accused of putting his hands on a man outside a polling location, at the Galveston County Annex Building on Calder Drive.
The man, Shawn Byars, filed a police report Tuesday in connection with the incident.
“He was poking me, poking the literature I was holding,” said Byars. “You can’t tolerate this kind of behavior at election polls. Especially during the election.”
According to Byars, he was campaigning for Peden when he and Donald Johnson got into a heated argument that he claims escalated.
Cheryl Johnson disputed the claims Wednesday.
“My husband did not touch him. There’s witnesses to see that,” said Cheryl Johnson. “That’s nothing more than politics at its worst.”
The race between the two Republicans has already raised eyebrows in the community after political ads mailed to Galveston County residents caused some controversy.
On ad claimed Johnson used her position for personal gain by cutting her own property taxes. The mailer suggested Johnson’s home is appraised at 50% less than her next-door neighbors’ homes.
Johnson said that allegation is false and that her next-door neighbors’ homes are not comparable to hers in size or acreage.
Another ad depicted a tattooed, shirtless man and accused Johnson of registering undocumented immigrants to vote.
“To have made the assumption that all illegal immigrants look like MS-13 gang members, I thought was profiling. It was racial discrimination and it was produced in order to incite fear,” said Johnson. “I do not conduct elections, that’s the County Clerk. So, the person who is responsible for illegals voting would be the County Clerk if they fail to get proper ID, and in Texas, you can’t vote without a Texas ID.”
The mailers were paid for by Peden’s campaign. She was unable to speak with KPRC 2 on Wednesday.
Her office issued this statement:
“The Galveston County Tax Assessor has admitted to having hundreds of registered illegal immigrants on the county voter rolls. She is the voter registrar and has allowed this to occur. There is nothing racist in upholding the United States and Texas constitutions by not allowing illegal immigrants to vote in our elections. The biggest problem with illegal immigration is not knowing who’s here – it could be anyone. It doesn’t matter whether they’re a gang member or Mary Poppins, if they’re here illegally then they should not be registered to vote. In addition to the issue of having our tax assessor register illegal immigrants, the campaign mailer brought to light the questionable property tax appraisal of her 3.5 acre 3,100sqft home in Friendswood. When comparing her appraisal with that of her neighbors and other taxpayers across Galveston County, her per square footage price is one of the lowest. After 16 years with this type of questionable conduct, it’s time for new leadership in the Galveston County Tax Office.”
Early voting will continue through February 28. Election day for the primaries is Tuesday, March 3.