Minneapolis council candidate unfazed by assault chargeby Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — A candidate for Minneapolis City Council said Wednesday he's hopeful that a pending criminal charge against him won't hurt his chances in the November election.
Lennie Chism, who is one of four people challenging Don Samuels to represent an area of north Minneapolis, said he will plead not guilty to a misdemeanor domestic assault charge stemming from an Aug. 30 incident with a woman in Minnetonka.
Chism is accused of bumping the woman with her car as she tried to block him from trying to drive it away, according to a Star Tribune report citing information in the police report.
The report also said that later in the altercation, Chism pushed the woman into the driver's seat. Chism was arrested after nine police officers found the pair in the car, which was parked on a Highway 169 ramp.
Despite the newspaper's report, Minnetonka City Attorney Desyl Peterson said Wednesday that the police incident report was not public information until the case is resolved, and she declined to release any additional information about it. A message left for the city's police chief was not immediately returned.
Chism said the incident happened the same day the woman ended their relationship, and he said he was only trying to leave the situation when she tried to block the car. He also said a witness cited in the police report was the woman's former boyfriend. Chism described the circumstances as "suspicious" and said his candidacy had already been announced.
"There was no violence on my part. She fell out of the car," Chism said, adding that he's considering taking legal action after the criminal case is resolved. "This type of charge comes back as any type of threatening behavior and it's very vague."
Until his next court appearance Nov. 10, Chism said he will focus his efforts on gaining support for his plans to improve job opportunities and economic development in north Minneapolis.
"This (criminal case) will come and go, but what about when you have a young man who can't get a job in north Minneapolis?" Chism asked. "We've got other issues than Lennie Chism."