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Crystal River rivals escalate name-calling

By ALEX LEARY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 7, 2002

CRYSTAL RIVER -- Drama, it seems, could not come soon enough for the partisans camped outside City Hall on Election Day.

While his friends waved campaign signs early that morning, former City Council member Mike Gudis approached voters with a different kind of ballot, one calling for the recall of council member John Kendall.

Gudis, 66, had success gathering signatures during the primary in September so it made sense to hit the polls again. This time, Kendall did not stand by. As his critic approached voters, so did Kendall, 74.

What happened next is debatable -- and the subject of a police report submitted to the State Attorney's Office on Wednesday.

"I said, 'You're harassing me,' " Gudis recalled telling Kendall. "I said, 'You are making more of an a-- out of yourself than you have before.' He said, 'You called me an a--? I'm going to knock your teeth out.' "

Kendall recalled a different version of events. He said he approached Gudis and asked why he was still pursuing the recall petition.

"He turned and said, 'Because you are an a--.' I said to him, 'There is no reason for that. If you call me that again, you'll be picking up your teeth.' "

While some observers said Kendall was being aggressive in following Gudis, others said Gudis was pushing recall petition papers in the face of passers-by. Some called the Supervisor of Elections Office to complain.

At one point, Kendall approached Crystal River police Lt. Mike Klyap. After Kendall told Klyap what Gudis said, the officer asked what happened next. A police report about the incident states that Kendall said he told Gudis "he would knock his teeth down his throat."

Klyap, according to the report, told Kendall what he did was criminal. Kendall replied that he would not have touched Gudis because he is "not that kind of person."

The police gave Gudis the option of waiving charges, but he asked for the complaint to be filed with the State Attorney's Office.

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