Hate letters sent in Council race

April 30, 2008 4:30:53 PM PDT
A City Council race in Queens is turning very ugly. One of the candidates, Charles Ober, is now the target of vicious hate mail.

Ober is gay, and the letters being sent to voters are laden with anti-gay slurs.

Eyewitness News reporter Jeff Rossen has the story.

An excerpt of the letter reads: "Queers have no place in our life. Get out, and stay out. Our children do not have to see this garbage."

And not surprisingly, the letter is anonymous.

Ober is an openly gay candidate whose sexuality is under attack.

"My stomach turned," Ober said. "I felt a little fearful and upset about it."

The letter was mailed to countless voters in Queens.

"We already have too many {expletive} trying to change the laws," the letter reads. "We don't need more queers here."

The letter goes on, "I now have to worry that a pedophile is going to be living here. He is not going to represent me. No {expletive} is going to represent me."

"I didn't read the whole thing," one man told us. "As I was reading it, I kinda put it aside...I couldn't finish it."

As we showed the letter to voters in Queens, many were sickened.

"'That is why God gave them all AIDS, to die and rot in Hell,'" one woman read from the letter. "'He looks like he has AIDS, and he probably does.' Who is doing this?"

No one knows. The letter is unsigned, with no return address on the envelope.

In a rare vote of bi-partisanship Wednesday, Ober's opponant in the race stood by his side.

"It was one of the most horrendous pieces of literature I have ever received, and of course it is anonymous, because that's how cowards do business," Council candidate Tom Ognibene said. "I think {the author} is despicable."

Ober is running to replace former Councilman Dennis Gallagher, who was forced to resign after admitting he sexually molested a woman in his office. And now Ober, a man who wants to clean up his district's reputation, faces a letter like this.

"The only way to really deal with it is to deal with it straight on and openly," Ober said. "Move on."

If the letter was meant to force Ober out of the race, it did not work. He says he is the race for good, more driven than ever to win the special election, which is set for June.