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York Mayor Kim Bracey campaigns after allegedly being assaulted by her son

Written by Gordon Rago/The York Daily Record | Oct 9, 2017 7:01 AM
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York Mayor Kim Bracey's campaign office on South Beaver Street was open Saturday. York City Police said the mayor was assaulted there by her son, Brandon Anderson, on Sept. 30. (Photo: Gordon Rago, York Daily Record)

Officials, voters offer support after Mayor Kim Bracey releases statement about her son's struggles with addiction

(York) -- One week after an attack on York Mayor Kim Bracey, her campaign office was open and a sign ushered residents in to register to vote.

It was late morning on Sept. 30 that the two-term mayor was assaulted at that office by her son, according to police and a campaign strategist. The mayor said her son struggles with opioid addiction.

Supporters of Bracey and people who plan to vote for one of her opponents in the upcoming election offered their support on Saturday, while a local political expert did not expect the incident to have a big impact on her campaign for re-election. 

Bracey's son, Brandon Terrel Anderson, 30, of York, has been charged with simple assault, a misdemeanor, and harassment. Bail in his case was set at $7,500 and, according to online court records, Anderson was booked into York County Prison after the Sept. 30 alleged assault.

A York County prison roster, updated daily online, however, did not show that he was in custody there as of Friday. Attempts to reach him were unsuccessful.

The York City Police report detailing the assault is brief. The documents -- filed with District Judge Joel Toluba's office on Sept. 30 -- state that Anderson was with "Cecilia Bracey" at 153 S. Beaver St. at 11:17 a.m. Cecilia is the mayor's legal first name.

Anderson allegedly grabbed Bracey by the shoulder and punched her in the face, knocking her to the ground. He then kicked her several times, police said. A bystander stopped him after he attempted to hit her with a wooden flag pole, documents state. It was unclear if the alleged assault happened inside or outside the office.

York City Police officials could not be reached Friday night or Saturday. Other than Bracey's statement issued Friday through a campaign strategist, neither the city or city police issued a news release about the attack on the mayor.

There was a "Biker for Bracey" event taking place at campaign headquarters the day of the assault, according to a campaign schedule.

The event was scheduled from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., according to a flier posted online by the York County Young Democrats. The flier says: "Enjoy food fun friends. Voter registration available."

Details of what led up to the assault and what provoked it remained limited to the brief police record and Bracey's statement.

In that statement, Bracey asked for privacy, saying that her son struggles with an opioid addiction.

"Like thousands of families, our family is confronting the fact that my adult son is battling an opioid addiction," she said. "No family is immune from this epidemic which is why we must do everything in our power to solve it."

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FILE PHOTO: York Mayor Kim Bracey.(Photo: York Daily Record, File)

 

Campaign officials at Bracey's office Saturday morning said they wished to keep comments about what happened to the statement, sent in an email to the York Daily Record by Mike Mikus.

Mikus identifies himself as a Democratic operative on his social media pages and worked on Katie McGinty's senate campaign.

In a phone interview Friday night, he said he was working on Bracey's campaign. He said the mayor is doing OK physically, but said the family is shaken.

The mayor continues to campaign, including an upcoming debate with opponents Michael Helfrich and Dave Moser scheduled for Oct. 26.

"She'll be there," Mikus said.

Focus on opioid epidemic

Like others interviewed, Helfrich, who is president of the York City Council and running on the Republican ballot against Bracey, said news of the alleged assault doesn't come down to a political issue.

"Any violence in York city is unacceptable," Helfrich said in a statement he sent to the Daily Record on Saturday. "Imagining someone attacking their own mother is unthinkable. I stand with Mayor Bracey against the violence in York City."

Helfrich added that there needs to be a "constant focus" on the opioid epidemic, and that he has lost people close to him to opioids. 

"We all need to be supportive of each other as we struggle to help our loved ones battling this disease," he said.

At least two city council members said they weren't aware of the alleged assault until the last two days.

"I feel terrible for her," said councilman Henry Nixon. "She apparently made a comment that addiction is involved. That's a terrible thing. Addiction crosses all boundaries and really tears at the fabric of any family."

He said reading about what happened caught him by surprise.

Councilwoman Renee Nelson, when reached Friday, also said she hadn't known about it. She hadn't seen the mayor the past week, but that's not unusual given that Nelson works as a teacher full time.

One friend of Anderson's, York resident Richard Craighead, said that Bracey's role as mayor and her son's addiction don't need to intersect. He was saddened to see comments from people on social media regarding Bracey and this playing into her job.

Craighead said he's known Anderson since they were kids going to school in York. He was surprised to hear about what police say took place at the campaign headquarters and that Anderson struggled with addiction.

"I never knew him to do any drugs," Craighead said, adding that Anderson always came across as a "nice, laid back guy."

"I'm kind of lost at the whole situation and how things transpired," he said.

The incident comes about a month out from Election Day. But words of sympathy did not stop along party lines.

Sharon Foust, who has Helfrich campaign signs at the front of her East Market Street home, voted for Bracey in both previous elections. But she described herself as a close friend of Helfrich, saying that it's time for change in the mayor's office.

"I have nothing but sympathy for her," Foust said of Bracey and the assault.

Bracey supporter Linda Whitaker says hearing about what happened won't change her opinion. She works downtown at Wangs and Thangs, a restaurant in the first block of East Princess Street. Whitaker did not know what happened until informed on Saturday. 

"I know the struggle," Whitaker said. Members of her family have been addicted to drugs. "It doesn't just hurt the person. It hurts the whole family."

Whitaker was able to meet the mayor after the restaurant opened. She described her as a "strong, independent woman" who she believes can separate her personal life from her role as mayor.

Terry Madonna, a political science professor at Franklin and Marshall College, said news of what happened has nothing to do with her role as mayor and decision making. He said what happened might call more attention to the problem.

"As horrible as it is for the mayor and her family, if some good can come out of it...that may be a good side of a horrific event," he said.

All families have a different path when dealing with addiction, said York County Coroner Pam Gay, who heads up the York Opioid Collaborative.

"It can happen to any of us," Gay said. "We need to support each other."

She mentioned her own niece who struggled with addiction. Sometimes, the family had to use "tough love." There are times, too, when they'd do anything to get their loved one the help they need.

"But at the same time you have to be respectful," Gay said. "You have to get on with your life."

Upcoming court date

Online court records do not list an attorney for Anderson. A preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Oct. 13.

 

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and York Daily Record. 

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