Storey commission incumbent, former challenger argue in Gold Hill hotel
Appeal Staff Writer
Storey County deputies are investigating an incident involving an alleged altercation between an incumbent Storey County commissioner and a former candidate for the office, the sheriff confirmed on Friday.
Sheriff Jim Miller said former commission candidate Eric Pierson, 51, reported that he was verbally and physically assaulted by Commissioner John Flanagan and his wife Erlene at the Gold Hill Hotel in September.
Both Pierson and Flanagan agree on the basic facts of the evening.
They were in the Gold Hill Hotel on Sept. 25. It was Karaoke night. A heated exchange took place between them. Flanagan’s wife became engaged in the exchange. The Flanagans left, and Pierson was asked by the owner to leave the building and never return.
But the fine details of the event are what is disputed.
According to Flanagan, Pierson was standing behind him talking about circulating a petition to seat a grand jury to look into corruption amongst county officials when Flanagan told him, “Look Eric, you lost the damn election big time. It’s time to quit campaigning.”
According to Pierson, he merely went to greet Flanagan, when the incumbent commissioner “verbally abused him” without provocation.
“He told me to quit campaigning,” said Pierson, who conceded he was no longer campaigning since he lost the primary election.
Pierson said Flanagan then said, “I see the (expletive) you’re writing on the Internet.”
Flanagan agreed he said something like that in reference to perceived negative comments Pierson has posted on a Web site concerning commission decisions.
But where the stories vary the greatest, and upon what the police report is based is what happened next.
Pierson said during this exchange, Flanagan’s wife “came over and grabbed my arm and wouldn’t let go.” He said he asked her several times to release him, until finally, he got angry.
“I yelled at her to let go of my arm before I press charges, and she finally let go,” he said.
Flanagan said his wife did get involved. But she never touched Pierson.
“My wife jumped up and shook a finger at him, and said my husband has never been involved in anything in the four years that would need to be investigated by a grand jury,” Flanagan said. “She never grabbed his arm, she was shaking her finger.”
The Flanagans then left, both sides agree, and Pierson said he went into the bar where the owners abruptly asked him to leave.
Sheriff Miller said deputies were interviewing witnesses to the event and thus far no one recalls seeing Erlene Flanagan put a hand on Pierson.
Pierson, who filed a report in July alleging he witnessed a retiring official stomping on his election signs, said he was not filing a criminal report again the Flanagans, but an information report about the incident.
“I just wanted it on the record,” said Pierson. “It just doesn’t look good what’s going on here. It’s like I’m marked in this town because I ran against one of the good old boys.”
• Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.