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Date of Issue: March 17, 2005

Commission candidate gets unwanted publicity

Anna Maria city commission candidate Ben Hayes of 733 Holly Road has been a virtual unknown since filing qualifying papers in July to seek one of two commission seats up for election in November.

Unknown, that is, until Manatee County Sheriff's Office deputies were called to his home July 28 over a verbal dispute between himself and city resident Charlie Daniel.

According to the MCSO report, Daniel, who also lives on Holly Drive, was riding his bicycle on the street in front of Hayes' house around 3 p.m. when Hayes confronted him with an accusation that Daniel had turned him in to the code enforcement officer for a violation.

Daniel denied the accusation, but a verbal altercation ensued and Hayes made derogatory statements about Daniel, including cursing and calling him a "faggot," the report said.

One witness in the MCSO report said Hayes cursed at Daniel. Daniel claimed Hayes approached him with a "nail pulling wrecking bar," while another witness in the report said Hayes had an "iron bar." Daniel said at no time did he set foot on Hayes' property, a statement corroborated in the report by two witnesses.

Hayes admitted calling Daniel a "faggot," but claimed it was Daniel who then came into his yard. Daniel and the two witnesses denied the allegation.

Daniel said he believed this was an "obvious homophobic attack," that he had done nothing to provoke.

The MCSO listed the July 28 matter as a "verbal disturbance" between neighbors and no further action was taken.

Daniel is a former member of the city's planning and zoning board.