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May 6, 2014 10:31 pm

Fresno City Council Candidate Apologizes for Election Flier Using Nazi Death Camp Image

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District 7 City Council candidate Mike Wells. Photo: Facebook.

Fresno District 7 City Council candidate Mike Wells apologized on Monday for upsetting members of the local Jewish community with campaign fliers that featured an image of a Nazi concentration camp, The Fresno Bee reported.

“I am as surprised as anyone, and if true, sincerely apologize for its use,” Wells said. “Anyone who knows my heart and long history of working for disadvantaged and ethnic communities realizes this was unintended.”

The mailer was sent to homes on Saturday and showed a rundown building surrounded by barbed wire with a wooden sign, Fresno Bee noted.

Closer examination of the image revealed what appears to be a building from the Auschwitz concentration camp, according to religious leaders who joined City Council Member Clint Olivier at a Monday news conference to call for the removal of the fliers and an apology from Wells.

The mailers were available at Fresno’s Democratic Party headquarters on Monday morning but were removed later in the day, Fresno Bee said.

Wells said he asked his graphic designer to find a photograph that depicts urban affliction and the designer told him she found a picture resembling a “Keep Out” sign in front of an empty building. He added that neither he nor his campaign staff thought to check the origins of the image.

“When I saw the print for the draft, I didn’t recognize it from anything I had seen before,” said Wells, a community advocate who worked for four years at Fresno Metro Ministry.

Wells also clarified that the words used in the mailer are his own, but the image is not.

Olivier, who is running for reelection in District 7, called the image offensive to the entire community. He said he knew at first glance that the photo was of a Nazi death camp, according to Fresno Bee. He added that several residents approached him with concerns about the flier during a campaign walk and barbecue on Saturday.

“I think that people of all faiths can join me in categorically rejecting this mailer,” Olivier said. “When I first saw them, I was sickened. I was disgusted. I find them to be reprehensible and I reject them.”

Others who took offensive to the mailer include Rabbi Rick Winer of Temple Beth Israel. He said, “This is not the kind of politics we want. I think, I hope, this was a stupid mistake. I hope it wasn’t an intentional thing.”

Fresno Democratic Party chairman, Michael Evans, apologized on behalf of the party.

“The use of the image was inadvertent and regrettable,” he said. “It doesn’t speak at all to who Mike is. I feel absolutely certain that if he knew what the image was, it would not have been used.”

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