Two nights, two allegations of physical aggression

The Odessa Police Department is investigating allegations that Donna Kelm, who is running for the GOP county chair, and Carmen Wilhite, who is running for Precinct 203, assaulted each other Thursday outside the Ector County Annex Building.

Kelm is running against Tisha Crow and Wilhite’s opponent is Ronnie Lewis.

Neither Kelm nor Wilhite immediately returned voice mails seeking comment.

The allegations come just one night after Facebook stories began circulating alleging Ector County Commissioner Don Stringer became “physically aggressive” with opponent Samantha Russell and Justice of the Peace candidate Steve Brennan during a Republican candidates’ forum.

In an interview Wednesday night, Stringer admitted he lost his temper, but denied getting physically aggressive.

“I am not that person,” he said.

Stringer said shortly before the forum Russell sent out a mass email falsely stating he owes back taxes of $10,000 in order to rile him.

The truth, Stringer said, is that court records show he owes $8,000 on his current taxes and once he files for his homestead exemption he’ll actually owe closer to $6,000.

“She said I owe back taxes. I don’t. I owe current taxes,” he said.

Stringer said he apologized for losing his temper before the end of the forum and he remains remorseful.

Having said that though, he remains sad at the state of affairs now in Ector County politics.

“It is so ugly here and anyone paying attention would understand that even the calmest of people have a breaking point,” Stringer said. “Typically I don’t get excited, but there’s been so much put out there from media that is not true media. I was actually putting my boots on when we got that text message.”

Stringer’s campaign manager and daughter, Kelsey Cavender, said her dad felt like he had to defend himself and was in flight or fight mode.

Russell’s father-in-law, the publisher of Odessa Headlines, Jeff Russell has not been fair in his description of the event, Cavender said. His story was later shared by the Odessa Accountability Project on Facebook.

“I think that they have definitely edited the video to portray what they want the storyline to be and the article also portrays the story that they want,” Cavender said. “They want to paint him as the villain and her as the damsel in distress.”

On Thursday night, the Ector County Republic Party issued a statement on Facebook condemning the “assault of a dedicated campaign worker.”

The statement stated the party is “deeply troubled” and Kelm’s actions were “utterly unacceptable.”

“The assault, which has led to charges being field, represents an attack not just on an individual, but on the sanctity of our electoral process and the principles of civil discourse and respect that underpin our republic. Such behavior is antithetical to everything we stand for as a party and as Americans,” the statement continued.

According to the statement, Lewis has engaged in a “multi-year assault” and his “escalating rhetoric” are associated with liberal cancel culture.

Stringer’s actions Wednesday night, “are stark reminders of the dangerous path that such a culture can lead us down, where disagreements are not settled through dialogue, but through force.”

Lewis, through his Ector County Politics Facebook page, reminded people Thursday night that he warned them Wednesday night that Wilhite was “being aggressive and dishonest.”

“Tisha Crow and Jeff Russell held a two-day seminar for her appointed precinct chair on disrupting opponents and subversion,” Lewis wrote. “They’re using their training.”

He wrote he was proud of Kelm for stepping up and running against Crow and asked for prayers for her.